When Michael Campbell won the 2005 US Open, he was almost two years removed from the most recent of his six European Tour victories, and it had been a decade since his only top-10 finish in a major.

Campbell's victory, to be blunt, felt like a fluke, similar to the other 138 men in golf history with a solitary major to their name. Few, after all, could have possibly foreseen the Kiwi holding off a charging Tiger Woods on the final day at Pinehurst.

When David Tua fought Lennox Lewis for the heavyweight championship of the world in 2000, he headed into the bout with a 37-1 record, with victories over three future heavyweight belt-holders.


Tua's defeat felt both like the inevitable outcome of his rise to be No1 contender behind a true great - capping an inexorable march that began when he won bronze in Barcelona - and the beginning of the end. It was his one chance; a stage he would never again see.

They both were indelible moments in New Zealand sporting history - and two that of course were repeated in recent years.

Campbell's feats have since been surpassed by Lydia Ko, whose first major win at the 2015 Evian Championship was less fluke than a formality.

And Tua's shot at immortality was replicated earlier in the year by Joseph Parker, whose loss to Anthony Joshua was more an opening salvo than the climax to an impressive career.

The differences continue when comparing two of yesteryear's heroes with their contemporary forebears. The sporting public seemed then at peace with the achievements of both Campbell and Tua - one who had the best weekend of his life, the other who had reached his limit.

Conversely, the current narrative around Ko and Parker appears much more mixed thanks the mixed blessing of expectations.

Unlike Campbell, Ko was almost destined to win a major, right from the moment she skipped down the fairways as a 7-year-old while competing in the 2005 women's national amateur championships.

What's more, Ko, now 21, is expected to keep winning majors and was looking a chance to earn her third tomorrow morning at the Women's British Open.


And unlike Tua, Parker ascended so suddenly through the heavyweight ranks that his fight with Joshua was as inevitable as Ko's dominance. Even after last weekend dropping a second straight fight against Dillian Whyte, Parker is expected to remain at the top tier of heavyweight boxing, not fade from prominence as quickly as Tua.

Is it fair for Ko and Parker to be held to a stricter standard than those who reached similar heights earlier?

Not really, but neither can complain given the double-edged sword that comes with placing great expectations on callow shoulders.

If they hadn't shown potentially transcendent abilities Ko and Parker would be far more free to fail - and that is an extremely relative term.

On the other hand, they wouldn't have initially earned such adulation, so many mainstream fans.

Ko and Parker did more than enough to earn the expectations placed upon them - and they both, in different ways, satisfied those demands.

Maybe when they begin the descent from their lofty peaks there will be a keener appreciation of the breadth of their accomplishments.

For the foreseeable future, though, they will have to grow accustomed to little but the best being good enough for fans ravenous for success.

Adams makes stand clear

Speaking of ravenous fans, after receiving a succinct explanation from Steven Adams for why he won't play for New Zealand, I thought that would end the debate.

So imagine my (feigned) surprise when the argument only reignited.

Many focused on the lack of loyalty Adams felt towards Basketball New Zealand, owing to justified grievances about receiving no financial support.

But an equally salient point was overlooked.

"In most sports, representing New Zealand is the peak," Adams wrote in his autobiography. "But there are some sports ... where playing overseas is the ultimate goal. Yes, I would love to represent New Zealand but right now I don't feel I have time to give it my best and play a full NBA season."

Despite pleas from team-mates or the imploring of opinionated columnists, this is entirely his decision.