A year after falling short in the championship match of the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, Trevor Immelman, of South Africa, edged future major champion Jason Dufner, 3 and 2, in the 36-hole final of the 1998 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego. Immelman became the first APL champion to win a major when he posted a three-stroke victory over Tiger Woods in the 2008 Masters. It was Immelman’s second professional win in the U.S., coming two years after he won the Western Open. Immelman also owns three European Tour victories, including consecutive South African Open titles in 2003 and 2004. Immelman, 34, still competes on the PGA Tour, although he has battled a variety of injuries the past seven years, including tendinitis that plagued him much of the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
What are your memories of winning the 1998 APL?
It was a lot of fun. It was at Torrey Pines. My folks came over for the trip, so they were in San Diego all week. I always liked that golf course. I played in the Junior World Championships there, so I knew it pretty well. Every time I played there, I would stay with the same family at La Costa [Resort & Spa], so I stayed with them again. I was just very comfortable. [I] got through the qualifier and then had a nice run [in match play].
Do you remember much about the championship match against Dufner?
That was a tough match. I really don’t remember much about the shot by shot there. I do remember there was a long fog delay in the morning.
Obviously, the big perk of winning the APL was a likely invitation to the Masters. Was that on your mind?
My goal as an amateur was to qualify for the Masters, and the year before I had lost in the final of the British Amateur [to Craig Watson, 3 and 2, at Royal St. George’s]. I was really gutted. I was 17 and I thought my world was coming to an end. So winning the APL, there was a lot of sweetness in that.
Do you have any thoughts on the APL being retired by the USGA?
Things change as you go along and I understand what everyone [at the USGA] is thinking there. But I was still sorry to hear about it not being played anymore. It will be missed for sure in the golfing world. You look at that trophy and there are a lot of guys whose names are on there who went on to have great careers.
Dave Shedloski is an Ohio-based freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA websites.