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July 9, 2006

Trevor Immelman


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: At this time we'd like to welcome the champion of the 2006 Cialis Western Open, Trevor Immelman, congratulations on your first PGA TOUR victory. You've won four times in Europe but it has to be sweet to win over here after a couple close calls this year.

TREVOR IMMELMAN: Yeah, it's an incredible feeling. Obviously it hasn't quite sunk in yet. It was a fantastic day. I really enjoyed every minute of it. Obviously to hole that putt on the last was just it gives me goosebumps thinking about it.

Q. You've surpassed $3 million in earnings this year, and your first win, I don't know if this is going to change your goals at all. You probably haven't even thought about it.

TREVOR IMMELMAN: Obviously it's a little soon now, but I can't wait to get home and spend some time with my wife and enjoy this moment with her. You make so many sacrifices with your family and with your time that when something like this happens, it's just an incredible feeling.

Q. Did you ever consider just trying to two putt from there or did you feel like you had to make that?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: Believe me, I was trying to two putt (laughing). There's no doubt about that. It was such a tricky putt. It's one of those putts that you're actually not even looking at the hole because there was probably three yards of break on that. For me I was really just trying to throw it up there to the right side and hope that I got the right pace on it. Somehow it just managed to go in.

Q. How far might it have gone past it looked like you put a pretty good pace on it.

TREVOR IMMELMAN: If it didn't go in, it looked like maybe three feet, maybe four feet. Obviously that slope is pretty big around that hole there. Obviously it went in at the perfect pace, but once it looked like it had a chance, I was really rooting for it (laughing).

Q. Do you realize you had a perfect chance to pull a Phil Mickelson at the U.S. Open there coming down 18 with the pressure on, Tiger already in?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, to be honest, I didn't really because I didn't know exactly where I was standing. I knew that I was playing well and that I had some sort of chance, but I didn't know exactly how I was standing.

You know, in Phil's defense, when you're in that moment, it's words can't describe it. It's like you're not in control of your body. It's just such an interesting feeling that sometimes you make you do something and you go, "Why did I do that?" But at that moment, you know, you're not trying to do it; you're trying to do the best thing you can do and sometimes it doesn't work out for you. I'm just really pleased that it worked out for me this time.

Q. Throughout the whole back nine you had to be aware that guys like Furyk, Tiger and Vijay, guys that have won a ton were chasing you. What does that do to your mindset?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, you know, I knew that obviously I was playing right in front of Tiger, and with those par 5s, the field kind of condenses there so we all sort of see each other's shots. You know, that's the fun part because to have guys like that who have been the best players in the world for the last 10 or 15 years, to throw my name in the mix there, it's a pretty fun time for me.

But I was really just trying to take care of my golf ball and make some birdies and just shoot the best possible round I could.

Q. Could you talk about your dilemma between the childbirth and the British Open and how that's going to be decided?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, very simply, it's going to be decided whether the little guy arrives next week or not. My wife is three weeks away. She's hanging in there, and I've always planned to have this week off at home in Orlando with her. If nothing crazy happens by Saturday, I'll probably go over to the British Open and try and get back as soon as I can.

Q. Given the disappointments you had earlier this year, how did that impact you today, and did it ever cross your mind, especially when you had that putt on 18?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: I'll tell you what, it's crossed my mind a few times in the last couple months. Obviously I was so close at Wachovia. When you've got two putts to win a championship and you let it slide, that's a tough feeling. But I really just tried to keep telling myself that that was a step up for me in my career to get in the heat of the battle with those sorts of guys and tried my best to put it behind me.

I think I drew on that today. Playing down the last hole, I just kept telling myself to just stay in the moment and hit one shot at a time. I think that experience paid off today.

Q. Especially after the way you played 17, did you have to kind of give yourself a little bit of a kick in the rear end?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: To be honest with you, 17 was quite unfortunate. I took a 3 wood so that I wouldn't run through the fairway, and I just hit it so good, and it must have got a pretty hard bounce down there and rolled up against the collar. I really had no second shot, even though I was only 110 yards from the flag. To make the bogey there I thought was a little bit unfortunate. It's like at AT & T, I was saying to myself, look, that wasn't anything crazy that I did. Just get down here and make some good golf swings and see what happens.

Q. Obviously you did a good job of handling the pressure with that crowd behind you. Can you talk about what it was like when Tiger birdied four of the six holes on the back nine and what was going through your mind?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: I mean, I have the utmost respect for Tiger. He's an incredible human being, and what he's done for the game is just fantastic. None of us expect anything less from him, really. When he's got a sniff of it, we know he's going to be making some birdies and feeding off the energy of the crowd. I enjoyed watching him do that. Like I said, for me, I was just trying to take care of my own ball and try and hit some good shots and hole a few putts.

I knew he was playing well, but I was just trying to do my best, as well.

Q. Can you talk about aside from 17, you birdied three of the last four holes, whereas everyone else, the best they could manage was even or 1 under. Could you talk about that closing stretch there for you?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, if I had to start one hole earlier on the par 3 is that 14? Anyway, 14 I hit a really nice iron shot and missed a short putt there, so that was a little disappointing.

15, I hit two great shots and two putted.

16, I decided to go with like a 2 iron off the tee where I had been hitting 3 wood all week and hit a nice 8 iron in there to about ten feet. It was a putt that really suited my eye, just a little uphill right to left.

Like I said, 17 was a little unlucky.

Whenever you finish strong, finish a round strong, especially when it really matters, it's a fantastic feeling. Hopefully I'll be able to draw on that experience and on those good feelings for the rest of my career.

Q. The closing out victory after Wachovia and the Nelson, relief, satisfaction, both?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: I'd say it's satisfaction. You know, like I said earlier, a took a lot of positives from those two events because as a whole I played really, really well. You know, I knew that I was on the right track with everything that I was doing, so I was really just trying to be patient and keep doing the same things. So to get one under my belt today, it's satisfaction because we put so much work into it away from tournaments, in the gym and working on the way you're thinking and the way you're handling yourself and hitting balls, spending time with your coach, so to come to a tournament and put it all together and win one, it's just an incredible feeling.

Q. You've had a lot of expectations and people look at you as one of the great up and coming players. How is that weight on you? Obviously how does it feel to have a win now to back it up in the States?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: Yeah, I think there's quite a few great players who are in their mid 20s, and my personal opinion is that you're not really going to reach your prime until you're around 30. I think that's the way it is with golf; I think experience is such an important part of being a great golfer.

I just kept telling myself that I've got to keep doing what I'm doing, keep learning from playing every week, and so you know, that's just what I've been working on, really, just trying to do that. I knew I wasn't too far off, just waiting for my time to win a tournament. Now that I've done it, it's awesome.

Q. Tiger turned 30 in December, by the way.

TREVOR IMMELMAN: Yeah, I know that. I still believe it. I think guys play their best golf from the ages of 30 to 40, and obviously Vijay has carried on past that, and like I said, I just think that that experience is such a huge part of it that you can really draw on that when you become a little smarter, should I say.

Q. You talk about not being in control of your body. Does that also go to your thoughts, as well, and how long does that last?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, you know, it's not like you're not in control of your body because you're thinking, okay, I've got to walk, and you manage to do that properly (laughing), but I guess there's just so much adrenaline pumping through your body and you've really just got to try to slow your heart rate down and just quiet everything.

For me I was really falling back on my routine. I was thinking a lot about my targets, where I wanted to hit the ball, the shape I wanted to hit it, and I was really just concentrating and focusing on that and not thinking about any of the end results or thinking about the crowd. I was really focusing on my routine and my target and just trying to do my best.

Q. To follow up on when you knew where you stood, when you stood over the putt on 18, you knew where you stood?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: Yeah, I didn't look at any leaderboards all day, it's just the way I play, really. I just like to try and take care of my own business. After I hit the second shot on the green, I turned around as I was approaching the green and saw the leaderboard on the big screen. At that point I knew I was one ahead. But I knew there were still some guys who could make birdie 17 and 18. Like I said, I was just trying to roll that putt down there and really work on the pace. So once it went in, that was an added bonus, really.

Q. You had a stretch this season where you missed four cuts in a row, then you did a 180 and had the two second place finishes. Is there anything you can point to that turned things around so abruptly for you?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: You know, it was a very interesting time for me because for the first few months of the season I felt like I played really well, but my short game wasn't quite up to standard.

After missing the cut at the MCI, I went home to Orlando, drove home to Orlando, and I was just thinking that I'm hitting the ball fine, I'm hitting the ball well enough to contend, if I could just find a way to get some putts to go in and turn three shots into two from maybe 100 yards and in, then I'd be able to, first of all, make the cut, and second of all, get myself into contention. So I was focusing on that, and once I got to Houston, it seemed to work out for me a little better and I finished 11th, and my confidence just grew. Then finishing 2nd and 2nd again, and from then on it was just my confidence that grew, and obviously I kept working on my short game, focusing on that, and that's brought me to this point.

Q. On the 15th tee were you watching Tiger's second shot when he swung, dropped his club and pointed right and yelled "fore," and if so, did that make it any harder to stay in the moment?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: Yeah, I did see that. I knew he hit a great drive down there and we were standing there watching him and I saw him push it out to the right but I couldn't exactly see where it finished. Like I said, Tiger is such a phenomenal player that even at that moment you kind of expect him to hole it out or get it up and down, do something crazy like that. It's just what makes Tiger Tiger. I was just trying to focus on my game, really.

Q. What kind of influence have Ernie and Retief had on your game, and given the fact that those guys aren't having great seasons some people are saying you might be the best player out of South Africa. How does that make you feel?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: Those are massive shoes to fill, but those guys, along with Gary Player, have been the three people that I've looked up to in my career. You know, I was very fortunate to meet Ernie and Retief from a very young age and watch them grow up and play. They used to play amateur golf in South Africa with my brother, so I've got to know those guys and they've taken me under their wing a little bit and showed me the ropes when I started playing in Europe and then started playing here.

Like I said, those are massive shoes to fill, five majors between them. But it would be fantastic if I could in some way emulate them.

Q. Could you expand a little bit maybe on that kind of abstract thing you're talking about, the joy of competition? A lot of people might think it's very stressful, but you're talking about it like it's a feeling that maybe we can't experience.

TREVOR IMMELMAN: Yeah, it's stressful, but I think at that moment you've got to turn around and say to yourself, okay, I made the choice that I wanted to be a professional golfer and that I wanted to put all this time in. So if I'm not going to enjoy this moment when I've got a chance to win a tournament, then maybe I need to take stock of my life and go back to school or something like that.

You're really feeling nervous and feeling stress, but you're saying to yourself, come on, this is what I've dreamt of. I used to sit up until all hours of the evening and morning watching this tournament being played and watching the PGA TOUR events. You've got to turn around and say this is why you've put all the hard work in, so you've just got to try and use that energy to make you play better.

Q. I was just wondering, to kind to follow up to that, have you given any thought to how this is going to change your life? People are going to start recognizing you in airports, and Trevor Immelman memorabilia sales will go up. Are you ready to handle that?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, I hope so. Like I said in the last question, I've dreamt of being a professional golfer since I was five, and when you're dreaming, you might as well dream big. I was always hoping to be one of the best players in the world and win great championships. All of that comes with being recognized and people wanting your time. I hope that I can handle it in the right way and make people feel good and move on from there.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Trevor Immelman, Cialis Western Open champion, thanks.

End of FastScripts.

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