July 27, 2005

U.S. Open champ Campbell returns to hero’s welcome

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell
returned to New Zealand to a hero's welcome on Wednesday, the
first time he has visited his home county since winning the
major in June.

Accompanied by his wife Julie and two children, Campbell
was met by about 300 people and a traditional Maori welcome at
Auckland airport.

Campbell's two-stroke victory over world number one Tiger
Woods at Pinehurst, North Carolina, was only the second time a
New Zealander had won a major title. Bob Charles won the
British Open at Royal Lytham in 1963.

"To come home, flying 12,000 miles and having a reception
at the end from you, was definitely worth all the flying time,"
he said after arriving. "I have brought my family over today
because of it and it is a day I will never forget.

"Obviously I'm over the moon. I tried to mentally prepare
myself but couldn't for this though, I've got goosebumps."

Campbell brought the U.S. Open trophy with him, which he
proudly displayed during a news conference.

"It's a label I am very proud of. If you go through the
names on this trophy the history is incredible. It started in
1895 and here in 2005 you've got Michael Campbell."

Since the victory, Campbell has finished tied for fifth at
the British Open at St Andrews and was 14th equal last weekend
at the Players Championship of Europe in Germany.

"My whole life has changed, that's all I can say. People
give you things, it's nice, all these bottles of Dom Perignon
champagne on my doorstep."

But Campbell still felt the importance of returning to New

"I was born to do something in this world. I was talking to
a few kids in the arrival hall and they were saying 'the only
reason we are playing golf right now Michael is because of you'
and that's just a wonderful response to hear from complete

Campbell will visit his Titahi Bay Golf Club, about 20kms
north of Wellington Friday before visiting local schools and an
official welcome by the Porirua City Council.

He will then take part in a special street parade in
Wellington later Friday before attending a civic reception.

A further street parade will be held in Auckland, New
Zealand's largest city, on August 5 before he heads to the U.S.