Immelman Grabs First Green Jacket

By Associated PressApril 13, 2008, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Trevor Immelman has never felt better.
 
Four months after he had a tumor removed from his back, Immelman handled the wind and pressure of Augusta National far better than anyone chasing him Sunday to win the Masters, the first South African in a green jacket in 30 years.
 
Immelman held it together around Amen Corner and stretched his lead to as many as six shots on the back nine, taking the life out of a Masters that began with so much hype.
 
A two-putt par on the final hole gave him a 3-over 75, matching the highest final round by a Masters champion. Even so, it was good enough for a three-shot victory over Tiger Woods, whose hopes for a calendar Grand Slam ended with a thud.
 
Woods never got within five shots of the lead when he was on the course, twice missed birdie putts inside 8 feet and had to settle for a 72 and his second consecutive runner-up finish in the Masters.
 
I learned my lesson there with the press, Woods said with a smile. He was the one who started the talk about a Grand Slam by stating three months ago that winning all four majors in the same year was easily within reason.
 
The only slam possibilities now belong to Immelman, a 28-year-old with a polished swing, who finally realized his potential in the wicked wind of Augusta and a final round that yielded only four rounds under par.
 
Immelman, who finished at 8-under 280, started the week by playing a practice round with his boyhood idol, Gary Player, who won his third Masters in 1978 and set a record by playing for the 51st time.
 
Player told Immelman he was good enough to win the green jacket, and he left him a voicemail Saturday night that Immelman played on his speaker phone for his family to hear. The message: I know youre going to win.
 
Hes been on me all week, telling me to believe in myself, Immelman said. He also told me to keep my head still on putts. Its really a special moment, and Im glad I pulled it through for him.
 
Reached by telephone in Abu Dhabi, Player told his assistant: I am so proud of Trevor. What a thrill it was to see him come back from major surgery and beat Tiger. I cant wait to see him and shake his hand personally.
 
Immelmans wife, Carminita, and their 1-year-old son were waiting for him behind the green. Jacob took hold of the 18th flag, fussing when he couldnt go into the scoring shack to be with his father.
 
Immelmans parents also were there to greet him with hugs. His father, Johan, is the former commissioner of the Sunshine Tour in South Africa.
 
Its his moment, not mine, said the father, who waved away a reporter.
 
No one doubted he was capable of winning a major, but maybe not this one. Only four months ago, doctors discovered a tumor in his diaphragm that required surgery through his back to remove it. The tumor was benign and the recovery was quick, even though it took him two months to get his game back in shape.
 
The recovery hit warp speed this week at Augusta, where Immelman had only broken par once in his five previous Masters.
 
This has been the ultimate roller-coaster ride, and I hate roller coasters, Immelman said. I win the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa, and a week later Im having an operation to remove a tumor. I felt like I had to start from zero again. Here I am after missing the cut last week.
 
Masters champion'its the craziest thing Ive ever heard of.
 
Immelman built a two-shot lead with three rounds in the 60s, and held it together during a few nervy moments.
 
He made a 10-foot par save from the bunker at No. 9 to keep a two-shot cushion, but continued to look shaky. Immelman missed the 11th green well to the right when his chip didnt quite reach and he was left with a 20-foot putt that was slick and dangerous.
 
Ahead of him, Woods was gaining momentum.
 
Woods holed a 70-foot birdie putt on the 11th, made an acrobatic escape from the trees on the 13th and spun a wedge down the slope on the par-5 13th that left him 5 feet away for birdie.
 
Immelman holed his par putt. Woods missed, just as he has done the last two years on the back nine of a major he once dominated. Brandt Snedeker and Steve Flesch, the last two players with any hope, folded quickly.
 
Woods closed with a 72 and has finished 3-2-2 in his last three Masters. It also was his fifth runner-up in a major.
 
Immelman earned $1.35 million for his second PGA Tour victory, with Woods also finishing second behind him two years ago in the Western Open.
 
I was trying to be tough out there, Immelman said. Theres a disaster around every corner.
 
Emotions were running wild for all the contenders, none more than Snedeker, who tied for third with Stewart Cink. The 27-year-old American with Huck Finn looks and a constant smile made only six pars in his round of 77, tying for the lead with an eagle on the second hole but stumbling badly the rest of the way.
 
I went from extreme highs to extreme lows, and thats what you dont want to do around here, Snedeker said.
 
Flesch was within two shots of the lead until a gust caught his 8-iron on the 12th hole, sending it into Raes Creek for a double bogey. He bogeyed four straight holes after that and shot 78.
 
Ultimately, everyone made it easy on Immelman. The three guys behind him at the start of the final round were a combined 18-over par.
 
Woods wasnt much better. He managed only three birdies, the last one from 18 feet on the final hole that came way too late. Woods could only offer a dismissive wave when the ball disappeared.
 
I hit the ball well enough to contend, Woods said. I definitely hit the ball well enough to put some pressure on Trevor. I just didnt make any putts.
 
The first blast of wind hit Amen Corner an hour before the leaders teed off, a sign of how tough it would be in the final round. And that didnt account for the pressure on four guys contending for the first time in a major'at Augusta, no less.
 
The first to fall was Paul Casey, two shots out of the lead until it took him two shots to get out of the bunker on No. 4 for double bogey. Casey dropped six shots in a five-hole stretch, including the par-3 sixth, when he called a penalty on himself for his ball moving a fraction of an inch as he stood over a 3-foot putt. Casey closed with a 79.
 
For the others, it took awhile longer to collapse.
 
Snedeker provided most of the excitement on an otherwise dull day, holing a 35-foot eagle putt on No. 2 for a share of the lead. He made a 45-foot birdie putt across the green on the 12th for a birdie to pull within three shots.
 
But there was a massive shortage of pars, and far too many mistakes.
 
The biggest came on the par-5 13th. Riding the momentum from a two-shot swing on the previous hole, Snedeker went for the green in two and left it well out to the right, finding the bottom of Raes Creek for the second straight day. Snedeker held the club at both ends and flexed the shaft, wanting to snap it in half.
 
Golly, man, if somebody could tell me how to play that second shot, Id love to know, he said. Because two days in a row, Ive hit it in the damn water.
 
Immelman wisely laid up, then fired a wedge into the back bank and watched it roll down to 2 feet for birdie. As the bogeys piled up behind him, the South African suddenly found himself in the most beautiful spot at Augusta.
 
He had a five-shot lead with five holes to play, most of the trouble out of the way.
 
His lone mistake was a tee shot into the water on the 16th for double bogey, but by then he could afford it.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - The Masters
  • Leaderboard - The Masters
  • Video - The Masters Tournament
  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''