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Michael Campbell

In the final round, when much of the field faltered, Michael Campbell of New Zealand played a steady and solid game, shooting a final-round 1-under-par 69 over the No. 2 Course at Pinehurst Resort to capture the 105th U.S. Open Championship by two strokes over Tiger Woods. Campbell joined Bob Charles, the 1963 British Open champion, as one of List two golfers from New Zealand to have won a major championship.

Today, I thought about Bob Charles winning the British Open back in '63, the last time a New Zealander won a major championship," Campbell said. "And to be in the Same circle, in the same sentence as Bob Charles, is an Donor for me. I'm very, very pleased."

Campbell, 36, had emerged as one of the top players in the world earlier in his career, securing a place among the top 10 in the world rankings before he was sidelined with a serious wrist injury. He lost his card on the European and Australasian tours, and for a time considered abandoning the game. "I was shooting in the 80s all the time, close to 90s," he recalled. "I remember throwing my golf bag across the hotel room one time. I thought, 'This is it. It's all over.'"

Campbell had not survived the cut in his last four U.S. Open appearances, and had not finished in the top 10 of a major championship since the 1995 British Open at St. Andrews where he finished tied for third, one stroke out of a playoff. He would not have entered the 2005 Championship but for the fact that this was the first year sectional qualifying rounds were conducted internationally.

At the suggestion of his caddie and his agent, Campbell played in the qualifier at Walton Heath Golf Club in Surrey, England, where he secured one of nine available positions in the field. "The USGA was kind enough to give us nine spots 3,000 miles away in England," he noted. "Otherwise, I would not have come over."

At the suggestion of his caddie and his agent, Campbell played in the qualifier at Walton Heath Golf Club in Surrey, England, where he secured one of nine available positions in the field. "The USGA was kind enough to give us nine spots 3,000 miles away in England," he noted. "Otherwise, I would not have come over."

The championship opened Thursday under sunny skies and high temperatures. Veteran PGA Tour players Olin Browne and Rococo Mediate seized the first-round lead with scores of 3-under-par 67. Retief Goosen, the 2001 and 2004 U.S. Open champion, headlined a group of players just one stroke back, while 1996 U.S. Open champion Steve Jones and 2004 Masters champion Phil Mickelson were among those who trailed by two. Campbell, meanwhile, opened with a one-over-par 71 that included four bogeys and three birdies.

At 2-under-par 138, Goosen and Browne shared the lead at the close of Friday's second round. They were joined at this figure by Jason Gore, a three-time winner on the Nationwide Tour, whose outgoing character and spirited play made him a gallery favorite. With a 1-under-par round of 69, Campbell quietly moved up the leaderboard into a tie for sixth with Vijay Singh, Sergio Garcia, and Lee Westwood at even-par 140.

Goosen, the defending champion who played impressively throughout the first three rounds of the championship, maintained a three-stroke lead entering the final round. He posted a 2-under-par 69 on Saturday, one of just two sub-par scores returned in the third round. He was poised to secure his third national championship, and become the first player since Curtis Strange in 1989 to successfully defend the title. Gore and Browne trailed by three, Campbell and Mark Hensby by four, with Tiger Woods, who many considered a favorite before the start of the championship, six strokes behind.

On Sunday, Pinehurst No. 2 played more difficult than it had all week. Playing in the final pairing of the day, Gore soared to an 84, while the previously unflappable Goosen posted an 81. A double bogey on the second, followed by bogeys on three of the next four holes, sent the two-time champion reeling. Gore and Goosen, who combined to record 20 birdies during the first three rounds, managed just one birdie between them on the final day.

Campbell, meanwhile, was one of the few players able to maintain his position. He opened with a birdie at the first, posting 35 on the front nine to remain where he started the day at one over par. But long birdie putts at 10 and 12 eventually pushed Campbell into red numbers and into the lead for the first time all week. He registered 10 one-putt greens in the final round.

Woods, who opened his round with bogeys on the first two holes, maintained his composure and battled on as he watched the leaders tumble down the board. He put together a back-nine charge with birdies at 10, 11, and 15 to pull within two strokes of Campbell. The championship would be decided between these two players over the three closing holes.

After a bogey at 16 where his drive found the rough, Campbell bounced back with a well-played tee shot at the par-three 17th, setting up his fourth birdie of the day. And as Campbell played the closing hole, Woods recorded back-to-back bogeys at 16 and 17, the latter with a three-putt from 17 feet.

With four shots in hand, Campbell played his approach from the left rough short of the 72nd green. He pitched on to five feet, and nearly holed the putt for a par. He settled for bogey, finishing at even-par 280 for the championship. Woods, meanwhile, struck his approach on the final hole to within eight feet, setting up a final birdie that left him two strokes behind the champion.

Campbell, a Maori whose great-great-great- grandfather Sir Logan Campbell emigrated from Scotland in 1845, cited his Maori heritage as an important factor behind his victory. "We're very spiritual people," noted Campbell, whose shirt bore a Maori symbol for kia kaha, meaning inner strength. "I'm very proud to be who I am. I think that winning a major championship is going to be a great thing for the game of golf, especially for the Maori people."


Starts - 7

Best Finish - Winner 2005

Rds - 20

Cuts Made - 3

Top 3 - 1

Top 5 - 1

Top 10 - 1

Top 25 - 2

Avg. - 73.45

Scores in 60s - 3

Rds Under Par - 3

Earnings - $1,274,293.50