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Rejuvenated Campbell relishes change of scenery

Almost losing her dream job has fuelled the competitive fire burning inside Canberra golfer Nikki Campbell.

After a decade on the Japanese Tour, Campbell's world turned upside down when she lost her card and failed to get it back at qualifying school.

But a second chance, and travelling to exotic Marrakesh, in Morocco, has reignited her passion for the game as she breezed through Q-school to earn a spot on next year's Ladies European Tour.

The 32-year-old said she was worried her lifestyle as a professional golfer had come to an end, but she never truly considered the possibility until she'd exhausted all options.

Finishing equal second meant she'll live to play another day, as the top 30 qualify for the European tour.

She'll have a fresh start in a new place, with her will to win sparked into life again after her close call.


''It did cross my mind [the dream was over, but] it's hard to have thoughts on something until it's final,'' Campbell told The Canberra Times.

''You always try to be optimistic, so when I missed in Japan I was trying to be optimistic about getting through in Europe. You don't really cross that bridge of not being able to play until you get there.''

After a decade in Japan, everything was starting to become like Groundhog Day - she'd play at the same tournaments, in the same cities, year after year.

Her berth in Europe has changed all that.

She'll no longer be able to return to Canberra every five weeks for a break, instead establishing a base overseas from where she'll launch her attacks on tournaments.

Campbell has been taken out of her comfort zone. If her first results were anything to go by, it has already helped her golf and she was hopeful it would take her game to a higher level.

''I feel more motivated to get involved next year,'' she said.

''Going to Japan the last few years it's been quite repetitive … to go to new places, see new cultures, new golf courses, it's kind of exciting for me now.''

After a short break, Campbell will hit the fairways of Royal Canberra to start preparing for the Women's Australian Open, which will be held there from February 14-17. In the lead-up, she'll play the Ladies Masters on the Gold Coast and New Zealand Women's Open in Christchurch.

Campbell admitted having the Australian Open on her home course put added pressure on her title tilt.

''Having the tournament here the last few years has been good because I've gotten used to the interest that surrounds the tournament and the local Canberra community getting behind me,'' she said.

''There will be a lot bigger names playing because it is a US Tour event now. I think any challenge is good, so I'm looking forward to it.''