Campbell eager to succeed at PGA

HAVEN, Wis. -- His peers knew the future was bright. Chad Campbell might have caught the masses by surprise last year when he made a run at the PGA Championship, but the PGA Tour brethren who played with him week in and week out expected greatness.

Perhaps it was the sturdy 6-foot-1, 205-pound frame that seemed to have such command over a golf ball. Maybe it was his success on the Nationwide Tour, where he polished his game. But Campbell was destined for stardom, and it was only a matter of time.

So the only surprise about Campbell's second-place finish to Shaun Micheel at Oak Hill a year ago was that he didn't win. Then came a 61 at the Tour Championship and his first PGA Tour win. Then came a final-day 66 to charge past Stuart Appleby to win by six shots at the Bay Hill Invitational.

Campbell, 30, was among the top 10 in the world and ready to make his move.

Instead, he stalled.

Heading into the 86th PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, Campbell shares some rather dubious company. He is one of just five players this year to miss the cut in all three major championships.

"No excuses,'' Campbell said. "I just didn't play well.''

A 76-77 start at The Masters was disappointing given his great play at Bay Hill just a few weeks earlier. But at the U.S. Open, he double-bogeyed the last two holes to miss the cut by a stroke. At the British Open, he again missed by a shot.

That creates a sense of urgency this week.

"I was definitely anxious to get here,'' Campbell said. "I'm excited about getting to the PGA and looking forward to having a good major for a change.''

It would difficult for Campbell to complain about his season overall. The four-time winner on the Nationwide Tour whose rookie season on the PGA Tour was in 2002, Campbell is 15th on the money list with more than $2.1 million and is ranked 13th in the world. He also is seventh in the U.S. Ryder Cup team standings, all but assuring himself of a spot on the team.

But since finishing second at the Colonial in May, Campbell has missed three cuts in six tournaments, with his best finish a tie for 19th at the International on Sunday. That was his first tournament after a two-week break.

Campbell is hoping that Whistling Straits' difficulty, combined with his ability to hit shots in windy conditions, might be the perfect formula for him to succeed in a major.

Last year at the PGA, he played in the final twosome with Micheel and was in contention all day, trailing by just a stroke at the final hole. But Micheel hit his 7-iron approach to inches for a tap-in birdie and a two-stroke victory.

"It's good memories,'' he said. "We both played really well coming down the stretch. I don't feel like I gave him the tournament. He won the tournament. He played really well. He hit a great shot on 18 to win the tournament. Obviously, I was disappointed right when we got done, but looking back on it is a great experience, and hopefully I can finish one spot higher this year.''

Campbell is not alarmed that things have not gone better. He has not changed his routine or his swing. He is not sulking or fretting. Like those who played with him over the years, Campbell expects plenty of success.

"Last year the PGA gave me confidence,'' he said. "Although it has not done me much good so far, I know it will.''

Bob Harig covers golf for the St. Petersburg Times and is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com. He can be reached at harig@sptimes.com.