Master Of The House: Immelman
Wins At Augusta
April 14, 2008
By Phillip Howley
Augusta, Ga. - Many people were anticipating a possible
Grand Slam of the major championships this year.
So, what do you think Trevor Immelman?
"Probably not," said Immelman with a laugh,
moments after winning the Masters on Sunday. "It's
probably too early to think about that."
Granted, all the Grand Slam talk coming into the Masters
Tournament was focused on Tiger Woods. This after the
world's No. 1 player had casually mentioned at the
Buick Invitational in January that he was shooting for it
this year. But a funny thing happened on the way to chasing
that unprecedented single-season professional mark.
Immelman got in the way.
|Trevor Immelman shot 3-over 75 on a
breezy Sunday. (USGA Photo Archives)|
"I learned my lesson there with the press,"
said Woods after his fifth runner-up finish in majors.
"I'm not going to say anything. It's just one
of those things when you're out there playing, you
couldn't care less. You're trying to win a golf
Which is what the 28-year-old South African did. Immelman
overcame adversity, took inspiration from his iconic
countryman, and barged into the major championship picture
at Augusta National.
Immelman was just four months removed from a serious
surgical procedure when he left the grounds of Augusta on
Saturday evening. He was just a week removed from missing
the cut at the Shell Houston Open when he found himself
holding the 54-hole lead at the season's first major.
He was still trying to make sense of it all when he checked
his phone messages and found something there from
three-time Masters winner Gary Player.
"I got it when I was leaving the premises," said
Immelman, the 1998 U.S. Amateur Public Links champion and
1997 U.S. Junior Amateur runner-up.
"And it gave me goose bumps. He told me he
unfortunately had to leave - he's on his way to the
Middle East - and that he wouldn't be able to watch the
"But he told he believed in me and I needed to believe
in myself. He told me I had to keep my head a little
quieter when I putt . he told me to just go out there and
be strong through adversity. Because he said adversity
would come today, and I had to deal with it.
"I took that all to heart and I'm obviously
thankful. I'm sure he's proud of me."
Immelman golfer'd up, all right. On a day that Augusta
relinquished only four rounds under par, a day when
everyone expected Woods to charge, a day when Woods needed
to birdie at No. 18 just to call it even, Immelman did
His final round 75 said more about substance than style.
His wire-to-wire win at Augusta - the first since 1980 -
gave him something in common with the man who left the
message, the man he grew up idolizing.
Now they both have green jackets.
Is it crazy to suggest Immelman is just getting started,
that the first major winner of the season might win the
next major of the season - the U.S. Open June 9-15 at
After this past week, where Immelman is concerned,
"crazy" is a relative term. "Here I am after
missing the cut last week - Masters champion," he
said. "It's the craziest thing I ever heard
But when you watch Immelman's fluid, compact swing, the
possibilities seem endless. When you consider he finished
first in driving accuracy at Augusta, hitting 48-of-56
fairways, and fourth in driving distance (average of 287.5
yards), the shoe fits. Accurate driving is a hallmark of
U.S. Open champions.
And when you recognize the momentum Immelman built this
week and remember his Amateur Public Links title came on
that same Torrey Pines turf, nothing makes more sense.
"You know, I've always dreamed about winning
majors," Immelman said. "Deep down, I always
thought I was good enough. But you at times, you obviously
doubt yourself, because you know, you miss a few cuts and
you screw up a few times.
"You're just like, 'Man, maybe I'm not
good enough.' But this is a tremendous confidence
boost. Now that I know I have got one under my belt .
I mean, I'm definitely not going to sit back and go,
'OK, that's me, I'm done.' I'm going to
keep working hard and trying to make the most of what
I've been given."
OK, Woods didn't win the first major of the season. But
maybe that Grand Slam conversation is still alive, after
Phillip Howley is a freelance writer whose work has
appeared previously on www.usga.org. For more stories,