Major champion Michael Campbell has revealed his intention to play a handful of events on the European Tour next season as he builds up to a full blown comeback on the senior circuit.
But the Kiwi golfer, who went toe-to-toe with Tiger Woods to clinch the 2005 US Open at Pinehurst, has limited expectations about what he believes he can achieve and hopes that, first and foremost, he just enjoys being back out there.
“It’ll be good to get the juices flowing and see if I like it or not,” Campbell, who turns 49 in February, told bunkered.co.uk. “My friends and family have been getting excited about it but who knows, I might hate it and all the travelling again. I really don’t know.
“It’s a mystery right now but it’s nice to have that unknown expectation. I’m just going to find my feet and see what happens.”
Campbell’s return to competitive golf comes two-and-a-half years after he officially announced his retirement from the sport .
The decision came after a number of tough years - both professionally through lack of form and injuries and also personally.
In five seasons from 2009 to 2013, Campbell had just one top ten on the European Tour and, after missing the cut at the 2014 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in January, he didn’t play again for the rest of the year.
In May 2014, he announced his separation from wife of 18 years, Julie, and that he wouldn’t be teeing it up in that year’s US Open – also at Pinehurst – before his most recent start, at the 2015 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, ended in withdrawal after nine holes due to personal reasons.
Retirement, Campbell says, has allowed him to ‘reconnect’ with his two sons – Thomas, 20, and Jordan, 18 – while he has also used the time to help establish two successful golf academies in Marbella, Spain, where he now lives with his fiancée, Gunnel.
“After 20 to 25 years on tour, it got a little bit stale,” admitted Campbell, who has barely played five rounds of golf a year since retiring. “I was a very absent father because I was so busy in my own little world.
“I spent half of their lives away from them and the last four years I’ve been able to catch up, reconnect, and spend some quality time with them. It’s been wonderful.
“I’ve lived a normal life. All the apps on my phone are about cooking. When I was playing golf, I could barely make a poached egg. Now I’m a bit of a master chef.
“Something I’ve really enjoyed is just being normal – going to the supermarket, picking the kids up from school, watching them play sport, things like that.
“Now, they’re on their way to adulthood – my eldest is off to university in Australia – so the comeback is great timing and I feel like I’m in the right mindset to come back now, too.
“I’m just going to enjoy being out there and not expect too much. I need to lose a spare tyre but besides that, I’m sure I’ll be fine!”