Puerto Rican pride for Campos
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Written by Adam Stanley @adam_stanley
RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico – On the course, it wasn’t the week Rafa Campos was looking for.
But outside the ropes, it couldn’t have gone better.
“I’m proud every day to be Puerto Rican, but to see all the support and the people who go out and follow me, that’s huge. I love being a Puerto Rican,” said Campos after a final-round 1-under-par 71.
The Puerto Rico Open returned to the PGA TOUR schedule for 2018-19 after Hurricane Maria blew through the island in late 2017 causing record damage.
Campos said the tournament’s return has been a resounding success for the island – another event that makes things feel normal again.
“It’s huge,” said Campos, who didn’t return to his apartment for three months after the hurricane. “This is huge for tourism, huge for Puerto Rico just able to broadcast worldwide. It’s really big. I’m really happy this came back and I hope it continues to come back for another 10 years.”
Campos won the second event of the Web.com Tour season earlier in January and currently sits third on The 25. He’s missed only one cut this year but after five weeks in a row on the Web.com Tour, plus this week on the PGA TOUR, he’s happy for a break.
“It’s a great time for a break, also for my caddie. I saw him struggling a bit,” said Campos with a laugh. “It’s going to be good to have two-and-a-half weeks off. I’ll take a couple days really off, to get some energy back, but I’m going to get back to work soon.
“I really want to play good golf when I start the Web.com Tour season again.”
In both 2016 and 2017 Campos parlayed top-10 finishes in Puerto Rico to other starts on the PGA TOUR. That will not be the case this week as Campos (73-68-74-71) will finish well down the leaderboard.
He admitted it was a week where things didn’t go his way, but he was happy to test his mettle on the PGA TOUR once again as he prepares for the opportunity to potentially earn his first TOUR card by year’s end.
“It wasn’t meant to be,” he admitted.
Campos had battled injuries the last few years but said he’s been feeling great so far in 2019. He said he was “scared” coming into this year how his back was going to respond to a lot of golf all in a row, but he said he’s feeling good.
The 30-year-old was the lone Puerto Rican to make the cut this week, and he said the hometown crowds that greeted him on every tee box and every green buoyed him.
Even on days when he played poorly, the crowds were out in force.
Campos played with Jim Knous on both Saturday and Sunday, who said it was “a blast” to play in front of such a big crowd.
“They love Rafa,” said Knous. “Weren’t playing great on the weekend but they were giving him applause on every shot, and me too. It was just fun to see the home crowd get behind him so much.”
Campos said it was awesome to play in front of the Puerto Rican crowd once again this week, and although it wasn’t the result he was looking for, he couldn’t help but smile on the 72nd green.
He blew kisses and tipped his cap to the hometown faithful.
“It’s a really special week for me,” Campos said. “It’s huge, and I love every bit of it.”