Immelman Pretty Damn Crazy

By Associated PressApril 15, 2008, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- For someone whos on top of the world, Trevor Immelman has spent a lot of time looking up the last few days.
One day after becoming the Masters champion, Immelman was courtside at Madison Square Garden for the Boston Celtics 99-93 victory over the New York Knicks. He was invited to the Celtics locker room at halftime by coach Doc Rivers, who wanted his team to shake hands with a champion.
There might have been a trainer that was shorter than me, said Immelman, who stands 5-foot-9 with the help of golf spikes. But Im standing next to Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, and Im belt-high. Its pretty incredible that human beings are that damn big.
Tuesday morning, he was taken by limousine to the Empire State Building for a photo shoot atop the tallest building in Manhattan.
There also were TV and radio interviews on the agenda, including his reading of a Top 10 list on the Late Show with David Letterman and an appearance on Live with Regis and Kelly.
The highlight, though, might have been halftime.
Born and raised in South Africa, he now lives in Orlando, Fla., and loves the NBA. Immelman is a regular at Orlando Magic games. Even so, he found it surreal to be among giants in green jerseys, listening to them praise a golfer in a green jacket.
They were telling me they were in Atlanta and watched the end of the tournament, and that they were proud of me, Immelman said. Its kind of weird to see superstars congratulate me on something Ive done.
There has been a lack of sleep, and little time for all this to sink in.
These are things that dont happen to ordinary people, Immelman said.
All because he did something extraordinary.
Not since Seve Ballesteros in 1980 had a player put his name atop the leaderboard after the first round and stay there over four days at Augusta National, a course where Immelman correctly noted that theres a disaster around every corner. He became the first South African to win the Masters since Gary Player, his idol and inspiration, 30 years earlier.
And he joined Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk, David Duval and Vijay Singh as the players to win a major by three shots in the last 10 years.
Thats pretty hefty company, Immelman said. It will take some time before that sinks in.
Until his Masters victory, Immelman said his greatest golfing achievement had been winning the Nedbank Challenge four months ago in South Africa, an event he regards one notch below the majors.
That celebration wasnt quite like this one.
Immelman wasnt getting a whirlwind tour of New York, rather he was in a hospital listening to doctors explain that the pain he felt in his rib cage turned out to be a tumor in his diaphragm. Within a week, he was having his back cut open to remove the lump, and only later did he learn it was benign.
Since I was a young boy, very deep down I felt I was good enough to win a major, Immelman said. As crazy a game as golf is, you go through periods where you doubt yourself. After the surgery, I pretty much had to start at Level 1 again and build my game up again. It was unbelievable timing to find my form last week.
Unless youre Tiger Woods, he added, you dont know how often that opportunity presents itself.
The opportunity arrived Sunday, and Immelman seized it'just as Zach Johnson did at the Masters a year ago, just as Angel Cabrera did at Oakmont, Michael Campbell at Pinehurst No. 2, Rich Beem at Hazeltine.
All won majors with Woods lurking on the back nine.
I dont think its ever easy to win a major in any era, Immelman said. As you say, Im playing in Tiger Woods era. This guy is frightening in what he gets done and how he gets it done and the ease in which he gets it done. To win a major while hes playing'and hes playing at his peak'its a hell of an achievement.
The trick will be getting grounded once he comes down from the Empire State Building.
Only three major champions over the last 10 years'Shaun Micheel, Ben Curtis and Lee Janzen'won nothing else but a major. Immelman might not have been anyones pick at Augusta National, but he was part of a B-list group of favorites along the lines of a Justin Rose, Paul Casey, Stewart Cink or Adam Scott.
Thats not to suggest Immelman is going to win the Grand Slam. He was the first to concede that.
But golf is largely about confidence, and Immelman now is equipped with memories of a week at Augusta National where he posted three straight rounds in the 60s, and answered a lot of questions about himself in a final round of 75.
After a miserable chip on the 11th, he made a 20-footer to save par. After chopping up the 12th, where he had to make a 4-foot putt for bogey, he answered with a birdie to build a five-shot lead. And after his worst swing of the day, a 7-iron into the pond for double bogey on the 16th, he bounced back with a bunker save for par on the 17th.
The two-day trip to New York was all about publicity, but it gave Immelman time to take stock of what he accomplished and how far he had come. His parents went back to Florida with Immelmans 1-year-old son, leaving him and wife Carminita to tour the Big Apple.
They began dating when Immelman was 14.
We went to the same high school, but she was a grade ahead of me, he said. Shes grown up with me in this sport. Weve been through everything together, from lugging our luggage to the tube station in London to driving in a limousine in New York.
Pretty damn crazy.
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  • 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 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 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.''