Left-hander one of country’s top youngsters despite taking up golf only five years ago
Astrong work ethic is at the heart of Tadhg Campbell's steady rise in golf's junior ranks.
The 17-year-old left-hander from Massey High School has been in top form this year, with plenty of low scoring and the odd title to boot.
He does golf-related activity for 40 hours a week, which involves playing at least 36 holes on any given weekend, then he hits balls at the range or putting green. On winter nights, he can be found at the range or at the gym, where his programme helps with his swing.
His coach Marcus Wheelhouse, a former New Zealand Eisenhower Trophy rep, likes what he sees from Campbell after two years working together.
"He's got talent, but his dedication and drive are real standouts," he says. "He's older than his years. Technically he's got a few things to work on, but he's young."
Campbell finished seventh overall and best amateur at this year's Muriwai Open in a quality field. That is his home course and his ability to deal with blustery conditions on the links course will stand him in good stead in the future.
"He held his nerve well at Muriwai and certainly into that weekend, which showed his mental toughness," says Wheelhouse, adding that Campbell is growing stronger as he fills out and all the gymwork kicks in.
Campbell says his form in the Muriwai Open was some of his best of the year.
"I had missed the cut there three times in a row. I didn't have any expectations. I just turned up and played well," was his philosophical summation of his tournament.
He only took up golf seriously when he was 12 - before then he was a softballer - but found he had an aptitude for it. Though he addresses the ball on the other side of the tee, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are his favourites rather than fellow leftie Phil Mickelson. But Campbell is not one to spend hours breaking down their game. He is far too busy for that, what with year 13 studies and golf training filling most of his time.
One of the qualities of the top golfers is their ability to be composed, and park a bad shot before hitting the next one.
"I don't really get nervous any more. I put a bad shot behind me better now, but I've never been an angry person," he says. "I have a process I go through. Then I forget about that shot and think of the next."
That helped him to victory in the New Zealand Under 17 strokeplay championship last year, his career highlight thus far, where he was unaffected by snow falling. It was too cold for mother Sally Hicks, who is often his caddy but gives no advice. Campbell continued his form into the 2014 Auckland SS champs at the Manukau club, where he shot one-under for the win, leading the Massey High golf team in a resurgence for the sport at the West Auckland college.
On the horizon is plenty of golf, including the September New Zealand SS champs in Taupo. Already he is in the New Zealand junior boys' academy, so the top brass have their eye on this talented leftie with the sound short game.
"The way I've played this year, hopefully I can win a couple more," declares Campbell, the reigning Massey High sportsman of the year and ASB young golfer of the year.
Next year? An American golf scholarship could be an option. We'll keep you posted.
And his rather exotic first name? It is pronounced Tage, close to Rage, though it was apparently originally supposed to be Tige as in Tiger.