Michael Campbell's time as a novelty is running short. Based on
his play in last year's British Open and last week's Honda
Classic, Campbell appears destined to be better known for his
golf than for his ethnicity.
"It's quite funny," he says. "On the 1st tee when they say,
'Michael Campbell from New Zealand,' everyone expects a
European, and then I turn up. They think I must be the wrong
guy. It's because I'm so different. People look at me and think,
'What is he?' They're intrigued. At Doral I went to the spa, and
people just stared at me. They asked, 'What are you? Are you
Mexican?' I said, 'I'm a Maori.' They said, 'What's a Maori?'" A
Maori is a member of New Zealand's native population, from a
centuries-old Polynesian migration.
In the years ahead Americans might be seeing much more of this
Maori, who is the great-great-great-grandson of a Scottish
governor of Auckland who took three Maori wives. Campbell, who
is married to an American, says he may soon play the PGA Tour
full time. His third-place finish at the British Open provided
an entree to many Tour events this year, and after positive
experiences at Doral and the Honda, where he finished seventh,
Campbell is bullish on life in the U.S.
"America is a land of convenience," he says enthusiastically.
"Compared to Europe or Australia, it's black and white. Here you
get courtesy cars and a hot lunch. It's incredible. Go to a
restaurant, and you can read the menu. "When you get to your
room, you have a choice of 40 channels--and SpectraVision! I'm
a movie buff. I'm not slagging off the European tour, but when
you go to Milan, you get 10 Italian TV channels, just CNN and
MTV in English."
COLOR PHOTO: MARTA LAVANDIER/AP PHOTO [Michael Campbell]