U.S. Open champion enjoys challenge, playing for Palmer
Michael Campbell's PGA Tour schedule is limited to 10 tournaments this year as a non-member, so he wanted to choose his United States events wisely. He has opted to make one of those starts at the Bay Hill Invitational presented by MasterCard.
Scheduled for the week of March 13-19, the Bay Hill Invitational presented by MasterCard traditionally includes many of the world's highest-ranked golfers. Kenny Perry is the defending champion in an event held at Palmer's Bay Hill Club in Orlando, Florida, every year since 1979.
Campbell, the reigning U.S. Open champion, has appeared in the tournament four times, the last in 2003 when he withdrew with an injury. Campbell finished second to Tiger Woods in 2002, shooting four rounds of par or better for a nine-under-par 279 total, four strokes behind Woods, who won four straight Bay Hill titles from 2000-03.
He also finished second to Woods by four strokes in the 2001 Deutsche Bank-SAP Open in Europe, but he more than earned his redemption against Woods, winning the 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 in Pinehurst, North Carolina, by two strokes over the former two-time Open champion with an even-par 280 total.
There are plenty of motivating factors in Campbell's decision to enter at Bay Hill, including a chance to play in the tournament hosted by the legendary Palmer, winner of seven major titles.
"Arnold is an idol of mine. He's the King. He's one reason I'm playing this game," said Campbell, 36, a native of Hawera, New Zealand. "I definitely want to play there and support him. I've enjoyed my times there and feel like I've played well there in the past, even if my record doesn't reflect that totally."
Campbell, who finished tied for fourth in the Mercedes Championships two weeks ago in the PGA Tour's season opener, said he is a fan of the Bay Hill layout, a par-72 course that measures 7,267 yards and is always among the strongest tests on the PGA Tour.
"It's a course I like. I enjoy it," he said. "The reason why I enjoy Bay Hill so much is it's a tough driving course. You need to drive it well there. And if you don't you get penalized out there. It's a straight forward kind of test, no tricks. So I think that it's really a place that plays to my advantage."
"Playing Arnold's event also a good build-up for me towards the Masters," Campbell, ranked No. 13 in the Official World Golf Ranking, added in discussing his early-season schedule."I think Arnold would understand that, don't you? I'm only playing three tournaments in the first three months of the season – that's not much. So, Bay Hill is a very important tournament to me. I'm looking forward to getting back there and I'll be fresh and ready to go. I know it will be in great shape."
For tickets to the 2006 Bay Hill Invitational presented by MasterCard, or for more information, log on to the tournament web site, www.bayhillinvitational.com, or call the Bay Hill ticket office at 407-876-7774 or toll free at 1-866-764-4843. Tournament proceeds benefit the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children & Women.