Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that he met with world-renowned golfer Michael Campbell this week at a private luncheon hosted by New Zealand Ambassador John Wood honoring the New Zealand native’s recent accomplishments on the PGA Tour.
“It was a tremendous honor for me to have the opportunity to meet with Michael Campbell and to share information with him on the development of our junior golf programs in American Samoa and Western Samoa,” Faleomavaega said. “I have extended an invitation to host Mr. Campbell as our special guest to meet with our junior golfers. My hope is that, even with his busy schedule, he will be able to encourage our Pacific junior golfers who see him as a role model.”
“One opportunity for our junior golfers to interact with Mr. Campbell could be through the Samoan golf club in San Diego,” Faleomavaega continued. “The San Diego club hosts junior golfers from Samoa, Tahiti, and throughout the Pacific. Because college scouts often visit the San Diego club on scouting trips there is a tremendous opportunity for the participants to be offered scholarships. A visit from Michael Campbell would be truly inspiring.”
Michael Campbell was in Washington DC to compete in the Presidents Cup, a team competition pitting the world’s top international golfers vs. the best U.S. players. Earlier this year, he won the U.S. Open, the most prestigious tournament in golf, with a purse of nearly $1.2 million. This month, Mr. Campbell won the HSBC World Match Play Championships, with the richest prize in golf of $1.8 million. Just prior to Michael’s arrival for the Presidents Cup competition, over 120,000 residents of his hometown of Wellington, New Zealand turned out for a parade in his honor.
Michael Campbell is of Maori and Scottish descent, from the tribes Ngati Ruanui (on his father’s side) and Nga Rauru (on his mother’s side). His Scottish heritage is through Sir Logan Campbell, who emigrated from Scotland to Auckland in 1845.
Now 36 years of age, Michael Campbell began playing golf at age 8, joining the Titahi Bay Golf Club at age 10. In 1992, Campbell was the first New Zealander to win the Australian Amateur Golf Championship. In winning the U.S. Open this year, Campbell was the first New Zealander to win a major golf championship since Bob Charles won the British Open in 1963.
In an interview after winning the U.S. Open, Campbell was asked what it meant to him as a Maori to win the championship. As Campbell explained, “I’m very proud to be who I am. I know it’s going to break down all the barriers back home. I think winning a major championship for the Kiwis back home is going to be a great thing for the game of golf back home, especially for the Maori people.”
In another interview, Campbell expressed his hope that his win would inspire others to achieve their goals. “To upstage the world, to win the world’s best-respected golfing tournament, I hope it sends a great message to everyone that if you put the time and effort into something, you can really do anything,” Campbell said. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s sport, business, anything, whether you’re Maori or Pakeha, you can do it. I hope it starts some inspiration.”
“Mr. Campbell told me that when he first started playing golf, his coach (who was also Maori) instilled in him the discipline he needed to succeed. Michael is an inspiration, especially to our youth, and his career success means a great deal to our South Pacific community. I wish him continuing success on his stellar career,” Faleomavaega concluded.