For the first time since his Tin Cup hopes of winning the 2005 U.S. Open were dashed with a heartbreaking 84 in the final round on Sunday, Jason Gore stepped to the first tee of Pinehurst No. 2 on Monday. His emotions of the moment are clear in the interview above.
Pinehurst Heritage Archive
Michael Campbell, who stunned the world when he emerged from sectional qualifying to hold off a furious charge by Tiger Woods and win the 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst, will not return to No. 2 to defend his title in June.
The news was first reported by The Raleigh News and Observer’s Luke DeCock.
Campbell, who has battled significant ankle problems, revealed on his website, cambogolf.com, that personal problems will also keep him from the golf course:
I have had some problems with a tendon in my left ankle that stopped me from playing for 2 to 3 months. The good news is that I am back swinging and now managing to play 18 holes.
On a personal note, I have some sad news. Unfortunately Julie and I have separated. Our children remain our number one focus as we move forwards – as parents first and foremost while remaining both friends and business partners.
As I do not feel that I am either fully physically or mentally ready to play tournament golf at the highest level, after much deliberation, I have decided not to play in the BMW PGA Championship, the US Open or the events in between. I want to get back to my best and I believe this is the best strategy to achieve this.
Casual fans outside the ropes and in the grandstands may have hoped for a different outcome at the time – and may still. It’s likely they felt Campbell had come out of nowhere. If it couldn’t have been Tiger, at least it might’ve been Retief Goosen, who seemed destined following Saturday’s third round to enjoy a coronation walk to his third U.S. Open championship.
Alas, it was Campbell, some may have thought. Never mind the Kiwi had already won six times in his career on the European Tour, contended 10 years earlier in the British Open and later in 2005 would win the HSBC World Match Play Championship, a tournament Ernie Els has won three times since 2003, and credits Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter and Paul Casey among its champions.
But Campbell’s career has indeed slumped since ’05, despite flickers of a resurgence with two Top 10s and two other Top 25s in 2013.
Still, Campbell has played in every U.S. Open since, albeit only making the cut in 2007. At Merion a year ago, he was eagerly anticipating a return to the site of the greatest week of his career. (Our interview with Campbell is below.)
“It changed my world (winning at Pinehurst) – for the good, of course,” he told us. “Next year, for me, personally, will be a huge week. I’m looking forward to it.”
When Peggy Kirk Bell first heard of Pinehurst, she knew she had to find a way to play in the great North & South Amateur. And so she showed up without invitation. The rest is golf history.
Peggy Kirk was an aspiring young golfer at Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., in the early 1940s. She looked up to the talents of established players like Estelle Lawson Page, Glenna Collett and Maureen Orcutt and followed the amateur golf news in the local papers.
One spring a notice about the Women’s North and South Amateur caught her eye.
“I loved golf and I’d heard that Pinehurst was the golf capital of the world,” she says. “I said, ‘Gosh, I need to go play in that tournament.’”
“I loved golf and I’d heard that Pinehurst was the golf capital of the world.” -Peggy Kirk Bell
So she packed a bag and grabbed her golf clubs and set off northward in her ’41 Packard convertible. Miss Kirk arrived in Pinehurst without mishap, found the country club and presented herself at the tournament desk in the clubhouse.
Payne Stewart made a remarkable personal metamorphosis over the 1990s. Always a graceful and talented performer on the course, Stewart as a young tour pro wasn’t universally embraced away from the course as his somewhat bratty, churlish ways rubbed many he encountered the wrong way.
A variety of circumstances and lessons conspired over the 1990s to soften and smooth the edges, and the 42-year-old Stewart who came to Pinehurst for the 1999 U.S. Open was significantly more humble and likeable than the one who won the 1991 Open at Hazeltine.
“Payne had really come full circle from the person I knew when I first met him. He was quite a man.” -Caddie Mike Hicks
Payne II, wrote John Garrity in Sports Illustrated, was “a quieter version of Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas morning.”
“Payne had really come full circle from the person I knew when I first met him,” adds caddie Mike Hicks, who worked for Stewart from 1988 through Stewart’s death in the fall of 1999. “He was quite a man.”
That evolution of Payne Stewart is perhaps best illustrated in the story of the divots of Olympic 1998 and Pinehurst 1999.
On his recent visit to Pinehurst, the great Gary Player took a few moments to tell us about his history with Pinehurst, what moves him most when he comes to the Cradle of American Golf (hint, it’s not the golf; it’s the people), and the true passions in his life.
Of course, we did talk some golf, including Mr. Player’s memories of Payne Stewart’s triumph at the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst, and got to watch him do what he does best – recover from a bunker.