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Ben Campbell Recovered, Ready To Go at NZ Open

Ben Campbell is a New Zealander with a purpose this week; back to full fitness after a year plagued by injury and driven by the desire to lift the Brodie Breeze trophy at the ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open.

Campbell will come full circle at his national championship after a mysterious injury sidelined him in 2016.

“This time last year I didn’t think I would play golf again; I was getting cut open with operations,” the 25-year-old said.

“There is still no idea what was wrong. Neki Patel and Rebecca White from Queenstown Health were the two people who got on top of the injury. I had a lot of scar tissue through my chest and ribs.

“I went on antibiotics for four months and after a month I was feeling a lot better. I had some sort of disease or infection, whether I got bitten by a spider or a tic. I don’t think I will ever know what the actual cause was but it is nice to feel back to 100 percent now.”

While he couldn’t play his national Open in 2016, Campbell couldn’t stay away.

“It wasn’t easy last year, I actually came out to the New Zealand Open and caddied for the Prime Minister [former PM John Key], so it’s a turnaround from then,” said Campbell.

“I am pretty lucky, from where I have been until where I am now, with all the people I have around me, it’s all about the team, it’s been small steps.

“At the end of last year I knew my game was good and I was starting to play the way I wanted to again. I have just kept working hard.”

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Now based full-time in Queenstown, Campbell will enjoy a home game when he tees it up at Millbrook Resort and The Hills for the ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open.

“I am very lucky; I have some amazing people around me, that is why I am down in Queenstown now. I am sponsored by Millford Track and I have another guy who helps me out here a lot as well. Then my physios and I am working with a coach down here, John Griffin and he has been amazing,” added Campbell.

“I play around here a lot, so I am just looking forward to playing these courses; I obviously know them both very well because I am living down here now.

“I play out of Millbrook so I know this course very well, I play at The Hills a little bit too so it will be nice having a home game and staying in my own bed.”

It has been 14 years since a local has won the New Zealand Open and 2017 presents a strong opportunity for a Kiwi champion.

The field is stacked with the nation's best players including European Tour player and Olympian Ryan Fox and Michael Hendry fresh from taking on the world’s best at the WGC-Mexico Championship.

They are joined by a host of local talent including Mark Brown, David Smail, Brad Shilton, Nick Gillespie and rookie professional Luke Toomey.

However, all eyes will be on Campbell who is perhaps the most in-form New Zealander.

He finished runner-up, in a playoff, to Western Australian Jarryd Felton at last week's NZ PGA.

“My game felt good but I still felt like there was quite a bit of room for improvement. I spent this morning with my coach; I have a few things I want to work on,” continued Campbell.

“I need to make sure I fully commit to my shots. I was doing that with my full swing but struggled a little with my pitching.

“My putter was a little hot and cold, I did putt very well at points but missed a couple of key points. All in all, I feel like my game is heading in the right direction.

“But you can’t think about last week too much, it has been and gone. I am more thinking about the old cliché, shot by shot,” added Campbell.

“It’s great knowing that I can compete out there again. I was very happy that when I was under the pump, I pulled off some great shots, it’s nice to have that build up to this week.”

The ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open will be played from 9-12 March at Millbrook Resort and The Hills in Queenstown with a field of 150 players vying for a prize purse of NZ$1 million.

The winner will receive Official World Golf Ranking Points and become fully exempt on to the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia for the remainder of this season plus a further two seasons.

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