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Ben Campbell scores breakthrough win at NZPGA

Campbell holds the iconic NZPGA trophy (Photo: Elizabeth Witton )
New Zealander Ben Campbell has today won his first title as a professional by taking out one of the flagship events of New Zealand golf, the Horizons NZPGA Championship at the Manawatu Golf Club in Palmerston North.

Campbell won by two over Victorians Ashley Hall and Deyen Lawson with Tasmanian Simon Hawkes another shot back and alone in 4th position.

Campbell held on in what was a thrilling final day where three different players either led or had a share of the lead but it was the 26 year old from Masterton, about an hour’s drive from this week’s venue, who prevailed after fighting off challenges from Hawkes and Anthony Quayle who had both led at various stages.

Campbell was one of New Zealand’s best-ever amateurs prior to turning professional but his career in the paid ranks had been hampered by illness and injury issues before he gained full fitness eighteen months or so ago.

In 2017 he began to realise his significant potential with runner-up finishes in this event and the following week at the ISPS Handa New Zealand Open so this week’s effort augurs well for next week’s national championship in Queenstown.

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet. I was close a couple of times last year and my game has been feeling really good lately so it’s nice to get the win, especially around here with family and friends around,” said Campbell.

“I felt pretty calm out there the whole time. I learned from last year, especially at the Open (New Zealand), so I didn’t get nervous. It was nice to put myself in position and get across the line.”

It was a line he crossed with his mum, Jan Wyeth caddying for him.

“Mum caddied for me in a couple of pro-ams earlier in the year and we won both of them. So I thought it is close to home, she can get on the bag and we managed to get across the line again. Maybe mum is the lucky charm,” added Campbell.

“I changed my putting about two weeks ago and I was quite surprised how well it held up this week. I missed a short one on the front-9 today but I knew exactly what I had done and I took some time out to re-set and ultimately holed some good ones coming in.

“There was a nice one on 15, it was weird, I was standing over the putt and I just knew that I was going to hole that one,” added Campbell who gained the outright lead on the 14th hole and never looked back.

Hawkes, whose career has undergone a significant turnaround in recent weeks with his win at the Victorian Open, took the lead through 9 holes today with an outward nine of 30 but was unable to keep the momentum going and dropped three shots coming in. He would finish in 4th place.

Quayle also had the lead, early in the back nine in his case, when he eagled the par 4 12th and at that point was one ahead of Campbell. The Queensland based Northern Territorian would falter badly over his closing four holes however dropping five shots in that stretch including a disastrous triple bogey 7 at the 17th and eventually finished tied for 7th.

Hall has generally struggled for much of the last twelve months following two brilliant tournaments when runner-up after a playoff behind Jordan Spieth at the 2016 Australian Open and a follow up 4th at the Australian PGA Championship. His final round of 65 today for his share of 2nd however has him heading to Queenstown with his game and confidence in better shape than it has been for some time.

Lawson, who tied for second, has often played well in New Zealand including several good finishes at the New Zealand Open so he too will be keen to get down south.

After beginning the week with the threat of Cyclone Gita disrupting the event, the New Zealand PGA Championship has been completed on schedule and now this field along with a few others will head to the Millbrook Resort near Arrowtown in Central Otago for the ISPS Handa New Zealand Open.





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