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Fall from grace had been enduring but Campbell is now bouncing back

Michael Campbell's descent may not have been quite as spectacular as that of the supersonic skydiver Felix Baumgartner but, in golfing terms, it was certainly quite a fall.

Seven years ago, the New Zealander was on top of the world as a major champion but, like Baumgartner, he came hurtling back down to earth at a furious pace.

Campbell's US Open victory in 2005, when he staved off the advances of Tiger Woods at Pinehurst, earned him a triumphant ticker-tape parade through the streets of his home city of Wellington but his career would eventually hit a dead end during an incredible slump.

It was encouraging, therefore, to see the popular Kiwi claim third place in the Portugal Masters on Sunday. It was the first time the former World Matchplay champion had posted a top-three finish since 2008 and his 12-under-par tally of 272, made up by cards of 68, 69, 67 and 68, was the first time he had reeled off four consecutive rounds in the 60s in almost a decade.

Given his fortunes on the fairways in recent years, and the dire straits into which he had been plunged, Campbell will not be getting carried away by one podium place but at least there is something positive to build on. When he last played in the Portugal Masters in 2010, Campbell, who reached as high as No.13 in the world rankings, had slithered to 1325th. His top-three finish at the weekend in the same event has hoisted him to No.361 as he continues on the road to recovery.

"I came here with no expectations really," said the 43-year-old, who was second on the European order of merit in 2005. "I just wanted to have some fun with my golf. I felt very much in control of my emotions and very much in control of my golf swing.

"If someone said to me at the start of the week, 'look, Michael, you'll finish third or fourth after this week', I'd be very happy, indeed. I felt very calm out there once again and being in contention is a nice feeling to have."

Elsewhere around the globe, Russell Knox's late-season rally continued as he claimed the best result of his rookie year on the PGA Tour with a tie for ninth in the Frys.com Open in California. The Inverness exile, 13th in Las Vegas the previous weekend, is now 157th on the money list with only the top 125 at the end of the season retaining their cards. Knox will look to continue his push at this week's McGladrey Classic in Georgia.

On the women's scene, Catriona Matthew also notched her highest finish of the LPGA Tour season, fourth in the Sime Darby Championship in Malaysia. The 43-year-old, who won the Irish Open on the Ladies European Tour in August, has now had five top-10 finishes in another profitable campaign.

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