Daniel Richardson

Daniel Richardson is a Wellington-based sports journalist for NZME. News Service.

Golf: Campbell to turn pro

October's Eisenhower Trophy will be Kiwi golfer Ben Campbell's last tournament as an amateur before he joins the professional ranks. Photo / Getty Images.
October's Eisenhower Trophy will be Kiwi golfer Ben Campbell's last tournament as an amateur before he joins the professional ranks. Photo / Getty Images.

October's Eisenhower Trophy will be Kiwi golfer Ben Campbell's last tournament as an amateur before he joins the professional ranks.

The Masterton player will make his debut as a pro at the Perth International on October 18-21, which is a co-sanctioned event with the Australasian PGA Tour and European Tour.

Campbell has been plagued by a troublesome growth on the big toe of his left foot for more than a year, but he underwent surgery on the foot for the second time recently to have the injury taken care of.

His latest spell under the knife, conducted in Houston, included having a large chunk of bone removed.

He has linked back up with American-based coach Kevin Kirk following an unsuccessful stint with Melbourne mentor Marty Joyce and said his time had come to start earning cheques for his efforts on the course.

"Last year I was meant to turn pro and I just feel like I'm ready and want to make the change,'' Campbell told APNZ.

"I've signed with the IMG management group and so I'm just going to make the turn to professional golf straight after the world team amateur tournament.

"I've talked to a few people about it and I feel like it's the right move and the coach in America's really happy for it. So I'm looking forward to the challenge.''

Campbell, who at his peak in 2010 was the No 6 ranked amateur in the world, will target joining the European Tour via the first round of qualifying in France in late September where he can compete and retain his amateur status ahead of the Eisenhower Trophy that starts on October 1.

The right-hander said the European Tour was his preferred option but if it didn't work out he would look at the Australasian or Asian tours.

"I always play really well over in the UK and in Europe anyway so being from the Wellington region I don't mind the wind and the bad weather, which you get a lot of over there compared to what you get in America.''

This year, Campbell's best results included finishing third at the Australian Master of the Amateurs in January, while he also claimed a tie for fourth place in the South Island Stroke Play in Christchurch a month later.

Campbell will team with Vaughan McCall and Mathew Perry for the Eisenhower Trophy that will be played in Turkey, 20 years after the New Zealand team made up of Phil Tataurangi, Michael Campbell, Stephen Scahill and Grant Moorhead famously won the event by seven strokes in Canada.

In 2010, the team of Ben Campbell, Ryan Fox and Peter Spearman-Burn finished fourth at the Eisenhower in Argentina and Campbell finished fourth on the individual standings.
With Fox and Spearman-Burn now among the pro ranks, Campbell, who will turn 21 on Monday, said he wanted to leave amateur golf on a high note in Turkey.

"We played pretty good a couple of years ago when I was in the team and I think a big thing is everyone just getting on really well. Me and Mat Perry are really good mates, I haven't travelled with Vaughan at all. I've only been in a couple of teams with Vaughan, but if everyone gets on well and the team spirit is up then everyone's a lot happier. So I think it comes down to a bit of that and we will try and get out there and see what we can do on the course.''

- APNZ

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