Fitness the focus for new-look Rafael Campos
5 Min Read
After losing 45 pounds, Puerto Rico native chases TOUR return
Written by Adam Stanley @adam_stanley
Plenty of guys on the Korn Ferry Tour would count Rory McIlroy as inspiration, from the way he’s captured some of the game’s biggest championships to his tee-to-green prowess to his global voice in the sport.
Rafael Campos looked to McIlroy for a different reason and now, after losing about 45 pounds in less than half a year, the affable Puerto Rican is hoping his physical transformation can lead him back to the PGA TOUR.
“One reporter basically asked (McIlroy) like, ‘Hey, how did you get in shape so quick?’ or why did he do it. He was like, ‘Man, my lower back was really bothering me and if I want to play golf until I’m 60 or something like that, I have to get in shape,’” Campos recalled last week prior to teeing it up at the Corales Puntacana Championship. “I do remember that, and I still remember that kind of triggered me saying like, ‘OK, this is one of the top players in the world and he’s doing something about (his health) just because he knows we have to use our body to play and be able to work.’
“I think that definitely helped.”
After two inconsistent years on the PGA TOUR and a return to the Korn Ferry Tour, Campos admitted that “enough was enough” and he wanted to see through an aggressive, complete overhaul of the way he approached golf-as-work.
Five months ago, Campos said, he set up a totally different team around him. He has a new nutritionist, chiropractor, trainer and manager. He has, essentially, started from square one. And although he said he’s upset sometimes with how long it took him to make this kind of change, he’s never been happier.
“And we’re nonstop working, to tell you the truth,” he said, “and it feels great.”
Rafael Campos on losing 45 pounds in four months
Campos’ new workout strategy isn’t that complicated, he said, but it’s been an ongoing process. In his first month he was doing light work like squats and bench press to learn how to properly do those exercises. The next month saw him lift more weights, then he did explosive movements with bands and more weights. The fourth month was when the Korn Ferry Tour season began so he was back to a simple weights-and-bands routine, then this month he returned to doing more explosive movements. Each day has its own specific workout area.
For his diet, he said, he thought at first he would have to cut out everything and distill his meals down to the basics – but it was the opposite. He was never a sweets or soda guy, so that was easy to leave on the sidelines. He snacks a lot, he said, about 10 to 12 times a day. So when it comes to meals, he’ll order whatever he wants – but barely finishes what’s on his plate.
“I believe the real key has been two things – snacking a lot so my metabolism stays really high and not repeating the same protein every day,” he said. “I really think that has gotten my body not used to anything in particular and I’m constantly burning calories.”
One person who has been impressive with Campos’ effort was noted fitness enthusiast and four-time TOUR winner Camilo Villegas. Campos stayed with Villegas for a few weeks in the Bahamas, and the Colombian complimented Campos on what he was doing. Up at 5 a.m. to go to the gym. Eating healthier.
“It's pretty cool to see the reaction of the other guys, but it's also a motivator,” said Campos. “It lets me know that, ‘Man, you're working hard and people are seeing it.’ It's important not only for me, but for my sponsors and the support team I have. It’s extremely important for them to know that we’re giving our best.”
One part of his time that hasn’t changed, of course, is the support of his wife Stephanie. Funny enough, Stephanie suggested to Campos that he should start posting on social media so people can see his progress and how hard he is working. Instead, Campos said he wanted to see the in-person reactions as this year’s tournament schedule got underway.
“A lot of guys would just walk right across, right in front of me and realize, ‘Oh wait, that’s Rafa. What’s going on?’ So that’s been great support,” he said with a smile. “It’s been a great five months, great reactions from players, family members, and from friends.”
Campos is back in action on the Korn Ferry Tour this week at the Astara Chile Classic after two starts on the PGA TOUR in March (he made the cut at both the Puerto Rico Open and the Corales Puntacana Championship). He’s played four times on the Korn Ferry Tour so far this season with a season-high finish of a tie for 12th at The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic at The Abaco Club. He’s No. 70 on the Regular Season Points List.
With his TOUR stint now in the rear-view mirror, Campos is comfortable enough in knowing he’s on the right path to regain status on the biggest stage in the sport.
And while Campos may have shed some weight, he hasn’t lost his desire to get back the PGA TOUR.
“I want to be (on TOUR) so bad on a consistent basis that not truly taking advantage of the opportunity that I had once I got my card really kind of upset me, and I'm doing everything I can possibly right now to get back,” said Campos. “I do feel I have the game to compete out here with the best in the world.”