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Campbell may miss season start after surgery

Michael Campbell could be a shock late scratching from next week's 87th New Zealand Open golf championship, the Dominion Post newspaper said.

The 2000 champion is still "hobbling about" three weeks after an operation to remove varicose veins from his left leg and fears he may not be able to walk four rounds at The Grange golf course in Auckland.

He could pull the pin on the January 15-18 Australasian PGA Tour event when his Florida-based coach Jonathan Yarwood flies into Sydney to oversee his first practice session since the surgery.

After the two-hour operation in which "incompetent veins" were chemically stripped from his leg, the 34-year-old New Zealand No.1 was hospitalised for two days and unable to walk for almost a week.

"I don't want to scare the public back home and say I'm not playing but I should prepare them just in case ... they say I had a few clots floating around in my varicose veins so it could have been fatal in hindsight," Campbell said.

"I have to be pretty serious about the New Zealand Open if I'm flying my coach in from England for three days, but there's no point in playing if I can't last one round."

Campbell's specialist gave him the all-clear late last week and will allow him to fly to Auckland on Friday, a week earlier than the medically accepted five week stand-down period, because of his general fitness.

But the world No.40 must wear a special stocking to reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis, a potentially fatal clotting condition he unwittingly played with for a year by deciding to "fit the operation into my schedule".

The injury has grounded Campbell just when the former Wellington and New Zealand amateur star looked to have emerged from a topsy-turvy 2003.

Campbell won the Irish Open in July and finished 15th on the European order of merit with $US882,000after abandoning his decision to play the US tour full-time following nine successive missed cuts.

He is one of nine former champions set to contest the $NZ700,000New Zealand Open, joining Bob Charles, Mahal Pearce, Michael Long, David Smail, Peter O'Malley, Peter Fowler, Craig Jones and Lucas Parsons.

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