Years ago, golf instructor Ken Lewis got a phone call from the father of an 8-year-old girl.
“So, I hear you’re the person to bring talent to,” said the father to Lewis, who was working at Vista Valencia Golf Course at the time.
“I have a really talented young lady,” the father continued.
Lewis was used to parents “overselling their kids,” as he calls it. And 8 years old was younger than his preferred age to coach. Nevertheless, Lewis invited the Zoe Campos out to the course to evaluate her.
“She had been playing a month, so I expect this girl to have no golf talent,” Lewis said. “She’s a tiny, tiny little girl and she pulls out this big driver.”
Three swings later, Lewis was sold.
“She was that talented in her swing already that I knew she had a special talent,” he said.
Now, Campos is a junior in high school and received her second invite to the Augusta National Women’s Amateur in late January.
At last year’s inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur, Campos, one of the youngest golfers in the field, was tied for first place after the first round and ultimately tied for fifth.
“Since I’m one of the few players to go back again, I do expect myself to play better,” Campos said. “I guess there is a little more pressure on me but I’m going to try to, like, just have fun and just be out there with my dad.”
Lewis will be at Augusta, as well. Campos has taken many more swings with him and even though he moved to New Jersey three years ago, the pair still works together. They talk on the phone often and Campos sends videos of her swings to Lewis for critique.
Working with Lewis has only led to success for Campos. She won the CIF Girls State Golf Championship title in her freshman year at West Ranch — her only year of prep golf — in 2017.
More recently, Campos came in first at the Major Champions Invitational in Phoenix, which ran from Jan. 27-29.
“He’s really shaped my game and he’s the one that was there from the start,” Campos said. “I didn’t want to change someone that helped me from the start. Even though he’s moved, it has been harder but at the same time it’s been really helpful because I learned to figure things out on my own with him being there if I really need him.”
Campos, who is committed to play on the women’s golf team at UCLA, is completely focused on her sport. She’s switched to online schooling to make more time for practice and tournaments around the country.
Two things that won’t change are the people she surrounds herself with and the original talent that Lewis first saw years ago.
“I think she’s probably one of the top- five talents in the world right now,” Lewis said. “Her development and maturity, that’s going to determine how far she wants to go.”