Tour Championship winner Chad Campbell won NGA/Hooters event in Greenville in 1998

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Since winning the National Golf Association/Hooters Camellia City Classic held at Greenville's Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Cambrian Ridge five years ago, nothing much has changed with Chad Campbell.

Now a member of the Professional Golf Association (PGA) Tour, the Andrews, Texas native still sports khaki pants and solid colored Polos, and is best described by his peers as a plain and simple, softnspoken competitor.

The 29nyearnold's simplicity has earned him the respect of his peers and has also helped him excel this season on the Tour.

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Sunday, Campbell scored big as he came out the winner in The Tour Championship presented by CocanCola held at Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas. His winnings of $1.08 million far exceeded the mere

$15,000 he won in Greenville. The win marked Campbell's first PGA Tour title.

Ralph Stacey, former Greenville Chamber CEO and organizer of the Camellia City Classic, said he knew after witnessing the then 23nyearnold Campbell dominate the field in the NGA/Hooters Tour event in 1998 that he would make it big in the future.

"You could tell he was a solid kid," Stacey said. "He was head and shoulders above everybody else on the Hooters Tour that year. He won, I believe, right at half the events. He was just a good Texas, country kid. He was very mannerly and very polite."

Campbell captured the Camellia City Classic title after finishing a fournday total of 268 or 20 under par. His nearest competition was Brent Winston of Sheridan, Ark. and Michael Foster of Fort Wayne, Ind., who finished tied for second after shooting nine under par.

On Sunday, Campbell shot a 68 to finish the event at 16nunder 268 and capture The Tour Championship title. He missed the tournament record set by Phil Mickelson in 2000 by a single stroke.

"It was a great feeling," Stacey said. "Anytime you see somebody on the PGA Tour or in any professional sport, that you sat down and talked to, and that you've ridden around in a golf cart with, it's a great feeling. It's especially a good feeling when it's such a stellar young man like Chad."

David Scott, an avid golfer and resident of Greenville, along with team members Tucker Norman, Barry Boan and Chuck Newby won the Camellia City Classic's Pioneer Electric/Touchstone Energy PronAm that year. Scott recalls Campbell dominating his competitors.

"I don't remember that much about him, I just remember he ran away from the field," Scott said.

Stacey remembers Campbell as a humble individual. He recalled driving Campbell in a golf cart to the trophy and check presentation after winning the Greenville event and bringing it to his attention that he had just won as much as some people in Butler County make in a year.

"He looked at me and said, I never thought of that," Stacey said. "He was very nice and humble. He had all the skills and could just bomb it forever. I think the skills that he showed even then is that he has a real easy personality."

Besides Campbell, other players that have competed in golf events in Greenville have went on to make a name for themselves at the professional level. Zach Johnson, who won the same tournament in 2001, finished No. 1 on the Nationwide Tour's money list this year, and was also named Player of the Year.

With his win on Sunday, Campbell jumped from ninth to seventh place on the PGA Tour's 2003 money list. He won a total of $3.9 million this year in 27 events. He finished second in the Chrysler Classic of Tucson in March, tied for second the following week in The Honda Classic and runnernup in the PGA Championship held in August. He had a total of nine Top 10 finishes and 15 Top 25 finishes.

"Leo Durocher (former Chicago Cubs manager) was wrong," Stacey concluded. "Nice guys sometimes do finish first."