Open for debate
September 13, 2020

Michael Campbell had a perfect response to us calling him an 'underwhelming' U.S. Open champ

Ah, the Internet. Where things live on forever.

In 2018 I wrote a piece for GolfDigest.com titled “The Most Underwhelming U.S. Open winners in history.” When our Golf Digest Twitter account put it out again as part of our U.S. Open preview coverage, it struck a nerve with one of those champions, Michael Campbell, who had an incredibly appropriate—and quite funny—response of his own via Twitter.

The first tweet had the trophy poolside with piece of paper over it, noting it as the “2005 Underwhelmed U.S. Open Trophy.”

A follow-up tweet had Campbell putting a piece of paper with a sad face on his U.S. Open trophy, detailing that he had shown the trophy the article.

The playful replies remind me of how Twitter can actually be a great tool for either debate or replying to something when done properly. Campbell’s not-so-subtle jabs at the article were well-placed, well-executed and devoid of the kind of abject negativity that sometimes turns social media into something not all that social. But it also made me think, was what was written unfair?

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I don’t think so and here’s why: I think perhaps Campbell (and Lee Westwood and Eddie Pepperell, who also chimed in) didn’t understand the intent of the article or our definition of “underwhelming” and to be candid, we didn’t articulate that well enough, either.

The underwhelming is not necessarily in response to the win in the moment. It is with the luxury of having time to digest a fuller portion of the winners career. As noted, Campbell was a reasonably accomplished player at the time although he had had limited success on the PGA Tour. His win was met with predictions of better things ahead, but that never materialized, primarily due to injury, something that probably would have been a good thing to mention as well.

So yes, given a mulligan a couple of extra sentences might have added the proper context. But I’m a one-ball-off-the-tee kind of guy and prefer to take ownership—whether it be my golf game or writing. I’ll take the heat for maybe not enough of an explanation but think the list—and any list is up for debate—is reasonably fair.

And a tip of the cap to Michael Campbell for his response. Definitely nothing underwhelming about that.