In this week’s Player Blog presented by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Jorge Campillo reflects on the relief of winning his first Tour event last year, and what’s happened since – including another victory!
It’s been a great couple of years for me. I got my first win on Tour which was a relief after so long, and to be able to win the second time so soon after in Qatar was really nice. Before I won for the first time in Morocco in 2019 I’d finished second six times, so I guess there were people saying “Is he ever going to win or not?” But I was never too worried about it. I always knew it was just a matter of time, that if I kept doing my work it was going to come.
I had a lot of confidence going into that week at the Trophée Hassan II. I had just had a run of finishing second in both Oman and Qatar, 20th in Malaysia and third in India, and I felt close to winning all of those tournaments. I was finishing well too, so it really gave me confidence that I could finally close out a tournament.
That final round is very clear in my mind. I had a tough start, but I was still quite confident. I started with a bogey, I missed to a bunker on two and didn’t get the ball up and down and then from the middle of the fairway on three I hit behind the ball and actually made a good bogey. I remember telling my caddie that I still was in the tournament, then I made a good par save from eight feet on seven, which was really the key to the tournament. After that I started hitting the ball really well, and made all the putts that I needed to make.
I actually had to wait on that 18th tee, maybe 20-25 minutes, and it was long because I wanted to hit it so bad, and then I hit the bunker on the left. I hit a great shot around the trees, and then I had a 52 degree in my hand and all I thought was “Don’t chunk it, just make good contact and you win”. I was still nervous even when I got to the green and I had three putts to win, and it was a relief really. Afterwards I thought, at least I can retire and say that I’ve got one.
I didn’t really celebrate at the time. I went for dinner in Rabat with all the Spanish guys and then went straight to China. I enjoy going there, and then I lost that tournament by one, so coming back home I almost was more disappointed that I lost that tournament in China than getting my first win because I was two ahead with six holes to go and just struggled with the wind.
There was a big difference between how I felt during my first and second wins. When I got to the 18th in Morocco I was really emotional because it felt like the work for that win was done after so many years, and the second one was more exciting, even in the play-off.
When I got to the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in March I was playing OK but my results hadn’t been any good for the first few events of the year. Then, for some reason, everything seemed to work out pretty well. When I got into that situation and I was two shots ahead with six holes to go, I really felt more comfortable about winning even though I almost threw it away on 16 and 17.
I felt under control and I thought 16 was an easy tee shot for me, but I missed it right and I was the only one who didn’t have the chance to go for the green so I made a bogey. After that I wasn’t comfortable with the tee shot on 17 with the wind, and I three putted. I got to the 72nd hole and told my caddie we could still win, and I was proud of how I performed in the play-off against David Drysdale. The hole was down-wind but I think we made it look easier than it was – or David did. I was hitting great shots and had to make those putts. I remember it was getting dark, they were taking us in carts instead of walking, and I was ready to be done when I made that putt on the fifth play-off hole, which was the same putt I had on the third. It was a great to win, instead of throwing it away like I did in China.
I had actually gone through a lot of change at the start of the year. I got married in December last year, and by the time we got back from our honeymoon in Japan I only had four of five days to practice before the new season. I also normally don’t like to change clubs, but Callaway felt like a good choice for me so I got new clubs, and then I changed caddie, which wasn’t easy after eight years. Qatar was his sixth event so he got a little lucky , but everything was kind of new, so by the time I felt like I was figuring things out we won in Qatar and then had to stop because of the pandemic.
To stop immediately after winning was tough. I was ready to go to India, I like that golf course, and I was close to getting into the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play so I knew if I finished in the top three there I had a chance. I was feeling great, then all of a sudden everything started getting cancelled, and you lose that momentum. In a way I was lucky because I won the last tournament before we stopped, but I was unlucky because I was playing well when it all happened.
I think I realised how serious everything was when my mother got called out of retirement to go back and work in the hospital. When you see that happen you know something is wrong, because she’d been retired for a year and a half and then got the call to ask if she could come and help. She was working in the laboratory doing all the PCR and lab work, and my wife is a pharmacist so she was getting medicines ready for all the COVID patients in the hospital too. It was an interesting time for them, and they were both safe so we got through it, but it was strange to be the one at home.
The five months I was in Spain was the longest I’ve been at home since I was 16 or 17. The first month it was nice to take a break and do a lot of cooking while my wife was working, but I really missed competing. I love to play golf, I love to compete, and after a month I was really frustrated – I ended up trying to play cards just to compete at something.
I started practicing again in the May as things started to get back to normal, but it wasn’t easy because the first tournament was months away so if feels like you are practicing for nothing. I was lucky that I could see my swing coach in Spain, but I still haven’t seen my putting coach.
I was actually playing really well before the US PGA Championship, and I thought I was going to have a good week. We had to quarantine before they lifted that rule which meant I had to miss out on the Betfred British Masters, so it was tough to go straight to a Major without any competition rounds under my belt. I played awful, but I think that was just that the pressure of the Majors got to me because I’ve never performed well in them.
After that I went straight to Wales and the trip there was a nightmare so it was tough to play well, but we did a lot of work on the range after that – which I couldn’t do in California. It helped me a lot, and after Friday in Wales I started to play great again.
I’m excited to be back in Valderrama this week. The course is tough, but I think it gets better every year. I was actually here in July and normally come for vacation, so it’s somewhere I feel comfortable and I’ve played well here before. It will be nice to be playing in some warm weather too, because I haven’t seen the sun since I left Spain six weeks ago and I’ve been playing in a lot of jumpers! I think it’s going to be strange without fans though, especially in the South of Spain where I’m from because normally I’d have all my friends and family watching.
I think winning has changed my mind-set. Before I won in Morocco, I had thought maybe I could win one tournament, but as soon as I got that second victory in Qatar I was ready to go to India and try for a third. It’s tough to win, but hopefully I can win more.
As far as goals go, I still really want to play in more Majors and play well there. Taking part in Majors hasn’t been easy for me, but hopefully next time I can play better. I’ve played in the Open Championship and US PGA, but my goal when I turned professional was to be able to play in the Masters once in my life, and I still want that. I want more tournament wins, but I think if I play at Augusta one time I’ll be happy with my golf career.