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April 16, 2008

Trevor Immelman

THE MODERATOR: I'd like to say good morning to Trevor Immelman, the 2008 Masters Champion. Trevor, thank you very much for taking your time to speak to your South African readers. We all know you've had a very busy last few days. On behalf of IMG and South African public, I'd like to congratulate you on winning your first green jacket, and say on behalf of everyone in South Africa how proud we are of you of this fantastic achievement.

Q. What are your plans for the end of the year? I assume you're going to come back in December to defend your Nedbank title. I assume, also, the SAA Open, and what about Leopard Creek, I don't believe you've played that recently; so basically what are your plans for December in South Africa?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: At this point I'm not 100% certain of my exact schedule for the end of the year. I do know that I will definitely be at the Nedbank Challenge to defend my title. Obviously that was a huge thrill for me to win at the end of last year. You know, my wife and I are looking forward to getting back to South Africa and bringing our little boy back home to see some family, some friends and family again.
You know, at this point I haven't decided exactly what my playing schedule is going to be, other than that I will definitely be at the Nedbank Challenge.

Q. I wondered what Justin Rose said to you, or I understand he left you a message; and also, what the likelihood is do you think of Justin, who has had a very similar career to you of winning a major and what he can get off you, because I understand he beat you in the money match before Augusta.
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Yeah, that's right, actually I still owe him a hundred dollars to be fair, so thanks for reminding me about that.
You know, Justin and I have always supported each other and supported each other's careers. We play a lot of practice rounds together, and, you know, we only live 500 yards from each other here in Orlando, so we get to see each other often.
You're right, him and I, our careers in the last few years have taken a fairly similar path. You know, Justin has all the talent in the world to go ahead and win a major. We've seen in the last year how he's transformed his game and truly become a Top-10 player.
I think it's only a matter of time before he finds the right week, and not only wins here in America, but wins a major championship.

Q. Nothing specific you think holding him back at all; it's just finding the right week?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Absolutely. Every part of his game is so strong, and I think, like I said earlier, over the last year, he just seems to have become so comfortable with his game and comfortable with himself and his standing in the professional game.
You know, he hits the ball long enough. He hits the ball very accurately. He gets a nice, high ball flight for the major championship. And his short game, to me, is probably the strength of his game. So I see no reason why he won't win a major championship.

Q. Just going into the Masters before the Tournament, taking into account the health issues you've been through, plus you missed a few cuts this year; what were your expectations in terms of your chances?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, that's a pretty good question there, because obviously since winning the Nedbank Challenge, it's been quite an interesting time for me, going through the surgery and doing all the rehab and recovery on that.
And then once I got back to it and got back out on the course and started playing some golf, my game just wasn't quite in the same condition it was pre-surgery. And I've had to put a lot of effort into it to try and feel comfortable on the golf course again and hit the same shots that I used to hit.
And so it's been a very frustrating time for me. And you know, my wife will attest that I've probably been like a bear with a sore head at times, wondering if I was ever going to get back to that same level.
But the week before Augusta at the Houston Open, I really started striking the ball well. I felt comfortable with my swing. You know, I knew that going to Augusta, if I could keep that same form with my long game and then maybe try and find a little something on the greens and start making some putts on the greens, I knew that I would have chance for me to have a good week. I feel comfortable on the golf course. I know the golf course well.
And obviously as a professional golfer, any time you go to Augusta, you get those extra juices flowing, because you know, it's such a special place, and you know, as a pro, it's a dream come true just to go there and compete. It's hallowed ground for us.

Q. Day-by-day, you're at the top of the leaderboard every day, did those expectations change when you really had a chance and realized that? How did you handle being the leader throughout the Tournament?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: You know, funnily enough, I handled it a lot better than I thought I would. You know, because obviously there's a lot of pressure going into the Tournament, as you said. Nobody really expected me to win the thing, so there was no real expectation from anybody going into the week.
But after the first round of the Tournament, people started taking notice and I started getting a bit more attention, and then as the week went on, those expectations just grew from everybody.
But for me personally, I think for some odd reason, I was just so focused last week, and I was focused on every shot; and I knew that it was going to be such a demanding week and that I just had to stay in the right place mentally.
Somehow, I managed to do that. So I never really let my mind wander. I never let my mind get too far ahead of me. I was really into my routines and into the process. You know, for some reason, I was just so focused that I managed to hold onto that lead.

Q. You said in one of interviews you slept well every night; so that was the case?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Yeah, absolutely. On Saturday night I got 11 hours sleep -- sorry. On the Friday night, I got 11 hours of sleep, and on the Saturday night I got nine hours of sleep. You know, I was just so relaxed. I was comfortable with myself. I was comfortable with my position and I was comfortable with my game.
You know, I just managed to find a way to go out there and play my own game without getting caught up in the whole experience of things.

Q. Congratulations on Sunday's win. I've been speaking to Ken Kosak at your home course in Pearl Valley, and I just wonder how invaluable has your association with that course been in your development?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Obviously the guys down at Pearl Valley have always been good to me. You know, it's a fairly new course down on the Western Cape, and I've managed to play it ever since Jack Nicklaus designed and built it.
It's been fantastic for me. It seems to be turning into one of the best courses and facilities in South Africa, and you know, I've got some great friends down there and I look forward to getting back to see them all again soon.

Q. Well, they have run by Leisurecorp, and they have got the link to Dubai; just wondering how important do you think with more and more golf courses sprouting up in Dubai, how important do you think the region is for the game in particular?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, I think it's very important. Golf for us, as professional golfers, what we really need to try and do is try and grow the sport as much as we can and try and allow youngsters easy access to the sport.
I think you know, what Leisurecorp and the guys are doing down there, building golf courses throughout the Middle East, not only the Middle East, but really targeting that area, is fantastic. Obviously there are great weather conditions and we have seen some incredible golf courses that have been built there in the last few years. So I think it's a very exciting time for them.

Q. I know your compatriot, Ernie Els, has just opened a golf course to the public; have you been invited to play on the course?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: No. I have to speak to Ernie about that, because I haven't been invited to see his facility there.
Yeah, it's definitely a goal of mine is to some way get involved in designing some courses out there. I've got a couple of projects under my belt right now, and, you know, I would definitely love to get involved in designing some courses in that region.

Q. And do you think this offers a lot to the golfing world then?

Q. Dubai, do you think that the golf courses that are being designed here are good enough to compete with the big courses in America?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Oh, yes, there's no doubt about that. The courses that I've played in Dubai are absolutely fantastic. And I've always enjoyed desert-style golf. You know, I enjoy playing desert-style golf here in Arizona, as well.
You know, I definitely think that some of the best courses I've ever played on are in that region.

Q. I just wanted to know about your emotions throughout the final round in particular, and when did you first realize you might have just wrapped it up and won?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Obviously my emotions were running pretty high all Sunday. But you know, that's one of the challenges is you really have to keep it all in check and you have to stay focused and not get too focused on the results.
You've just got to try and just put one foot in front of the other at a time so to speak and just take care of one shot at a time and make sure you're sticking to your strategy and your game plan and concern yourself with those things more than worrying about how you're doing or worrying about how you're feeling.
So that was my focus. You know, though at times it gets really difficult to keep your emotions in check; that's what you've got to do. Every time you feel like your mind is wandering, you have to kind of laugh it off and pull yourself back to the right mental spot.
That's one of the main challenges. You know, I'm proud of myself for dealing with that. And as far as knowing when I was going to win, I wasn't keeping an eye on the leaderboard at all Sunday. I really just wanted to focus on my own game, and once I hit my ball on the green on 18, I asked my caddie how we were doing and he told me that I was three ahead. You know, at that point from the reaction of the crowd, I knew my ball was on the lower level and probably no more than 20 feet from the cup, so I knew that I had pretty much wrapped it up and I could go ahead and enjoy the last five minutes.

Q. And then when you walked off, it seemed like you were not exactly sure where to go and what to do and what to think; do you remember what you thought?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: After I finished?

Q. Yes, after you finished.
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, I knew I had to go to the scorer's to sign my card, so I knew where I was going.
You know, I think I was just trying to take in the moment. You know, who knows if I'll ever have that opportunity again. I was just trying to enjoy the moment and take it all in and experience it. Obviously it had been a long, emotional week for me. So at that point I kind of let my guard down so to speak and just really tried to take it all in.
Obviously it was fantastic to have my wife and my little boy come on to the green and have them share that with me. So that's all I was trying to do.

Q. Sort of a more difficult question perhaps. Your days as an amateur in South Africa, you had a reputation for a while of being maybe a bit brash, but at the same time, I think people have recognized that you've mellowed out over the years since turning professional. Do you see it in the same way, and if so, sort of to what do you attribute that change in yourself to? Obviously it's maturation, as well, but how do you see it?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, I think to be honest with you, I thought that -- and I do think, that a lot of that was a little bit unfair at the time. I think the situation that I was in was quite an interesting one because, because I was so young and achieving so many things on the South African amateur circuit, and especially playing golf in a situation where I was in my teens competing against older gentlemen and winning the SA Amateur and Western Province Amateur and competing like that, I think that was a weird situation for everybody.
You know, I think that's why at times people might have felt like I came across a little bit arrogant. But I think it was just a different situation, because, you know, normally say you're good at rugby and you're 15 years old; you're still going to play on the Under 16 team. Here I was at 16 years old and winning the SA Amateur against any amateur in South Africa who wanted to compete. You know, it was a different situation for all of us. So it was a little bit of an uneasy feeling for certain people.
And, you know, I never intended for people to think about me in a certain way, but you know, I think it's very important for young kids not to worry about things like that too much. You need to go out there, because it's definitely something that affected me for a time and I couldn't always understand why people had those feelings about me. Because you know, how many kids do you know that don't believe in themselves? You know, when you're that age, you feel like you're bulletproof. If a guy comes up to you and says, "I bet you can't hit that post box with this ball; I bet you can't throw it at that post box and hit it."
When you're that age, you're like, "What do you mean, here I'm going to do it for you." That was my mind-set.
And so, you know, I think it was a very interesting time for a lot of people, and as you say, as I've grown up and had more experiences in life and got married and had a kid. Obviously you learn more things and you learn how to handle things in a different way, so I think it's been quite an interesting process.

Q. I wondered if you thought you would have won the Masters without having gone to live in America and play on their tour full-time?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Yeah, that's a very good question. I really don't know how to answer that.
You know, I think with me being a South African, it would be impossible for me to compete on the world stage if I was still living in South Africa, just purely because the amount of travel is just going to absolutely wear you down; and having to deal with the constant time changes and temperature changes, obviously opposite seasons in the northern hemisphere to South Africa.
You know that, is the main reason why my wife and I decided I was going to move out here and play full-time and set up our base here and have our home here and really settle down. It's purely because at the time I was finding it very difficult to live in London playing The European Tour and travel over here to play.
So I do think it's important to maybe sit down and decide what goals you're going to try and achieve, and then figure out, you know, what schedule is going to suit you best. And for me, I definitely felt like I needed to settle down in one place and then travel from there, because I don't believe that you can -- I think guys like Ernie and Retief have done an incredible job of sustaining such a high level while doing so much traveling. That's how I would answer your question.

Q. What do you remember of your time in London when you were lugging your luggage to tube stations and stuff like that, which seems a long, long way from now?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, I tell it you seems a long, long way from now, but I remember it like it was yesterday. Those were tough times but think those were times that stood me in good stead for this situation.
I was 19 years old, turning professional, and there was obviously a lot of uncertainty. I had not played much golf in the U.K. and in Europe, and I came over to play the Challenge Tour. I remember those days like they were yesterday; getting off the plane at Heathrow, getting on to the tube, going into Hammersmith to the hotel that I used to stay at, and lugging all the golf clubs and the luggage; you know, those were tough times.
But it definitely 100% makes you appreciate the good times, and I think that was part of my career that definitely made me tougher and made me stronger and made me want to practice harder and want to achieve. So it's something that helped me get to this point.

Q. Pretty lonely, as well, I would have imagined.
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Yeah, the start was pretty miserable really, because you know, you're a long way from home, you're only 19 years old. So I'm still a kid and you're out there competing against veterans and against such great golfers. It's definitely lonely.
You know, I was fortunate a couple years later, she was my girlfriend at the time, but my wife now, Carminita, she decided she would quit her job in South Africa and come over and stay with me. And at that point we rented our first place in Richmond, and she used to travel the Tour and keep me company and help me out. That obviously made things a lot easier to have somebody to share the whole experience with.

Q. Are you going to win all majors this year?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: No, I don't see myself winning all four majors. Hopefully at the end of my career I would have won all four majors, but as to winning the Grand Slam in one season, I don't think that that's probably all too possible for me.
I definitely see how Tiger Woods could think that he could do it. I mean, the guy is phenomenal, the stuff he manages to pull off on a weekly basis is mind-boggling at times. So I could see how he feels like he could do it. But for me, I'm just going to take it one step at a time.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks everyone, Trevor, thank you very much for your time. Congratulations again and thanks very much for speaking to everyone, and like I say, enjoy it, and we're really, really proud of you.

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