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June 7, 2006

Trevor Immelman


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Trevor Immelman, thank you for joining us here. You've enjoyed a very productive first full season here on the PGA TOUR, back to back runner up finishes recently at the Wachovia Championship and the EDS Byron Nelson Championship. Maybe just talk about your recent success and your expectations this week.

TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, thanks, yeah. It's been a great month for me, May I believe it was, and the start of June. Yeah, it's been fantastic to get some results in. I feel really have felt really comfortable the last couple months on the Tour here and finding my feet and finding my way. It's been a great feeling for me, and I really look forward to the rest of this year and hopefully a long career on the PGA TOUR.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: As far as Barclays Classic this week, talk about Westchester Country Club and perhaps how it sets up for your game.

TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, this is actually my first time to the area, and I managed to play the back nine yesterday, and I'm hoping to still be able to play the Pro Am today to get to see the rest of the course. Obviously I've heard a lot about it from other South Africans and other players. David Frost won here, Ernie has won a couple times, so I've heard a lot from those guys.

I wasn't disappointed yesterday. It's a great old style golf course, some nice elevation changes, small greens with big slopes, and I love the tree lined look. It's a fantastic golf course, and I think if I can keep playing the same way, hopefully I'll have a chance come Sunday.

Q. What you've seen of the golf course, granted, it's only been nine holes, but a lot of people say that this is a golf course that doesn't reward length. I mean, obviously you have to shape it around a lot of doglegs and cut a lot of corners. I was wondering if that was something that stood out to you.

TREVOR IMMELMAN: I think this golf course, the key to it, is really driving the ball well and keeping it in play. There seems to be a bit of rough around, especially with the wet weather we're anticipating, it's going to be nice and juicy. I think you're going to have to drive the ball in play, and from there I think you'll have to be in some way able to attack the small greens. Obviously with the plateaus on the greens the distance control is going to be quite important. I think the key this week is to drive it in play and from there you can have a good chance of making a good score. I think that good ball striking is rewarded on this golf course, there's no doubt about that.

Q. What are your thoughts on the process of U.S. Open qualifying, and should it be kind of enlarged to include more top players?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: By saying include more top players, what do you mean by that, having more top players qualifying?

Q. And as far as rather than going through a one day qualifying, being exempt already into it.

TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, I think they've found a pretty good recipe so far. It seems to be pretty similar for the U.S. Open and the Open Championship. I think it's pretty good to have the top 50 in the world at a specific date. They've got a couple Money List categories there, which helps players who have been playing well, running into the tournament. With those couple categories, they're going to have the top players at that point, and I think to have more than a one day qualifying gets too tricky with us playing week in and week out in different cities, so 36 holes in one day is pretty much the only way you can do it. I think they've got that right.

Having a big qualifier where we were playing in Columbus is a great idea; I did that last year. Then they had a couple more all over the country and the world.

I think they've got it right, I really do. I think when you look at the fields for the majors, you're always going to find top 100 players in the world there. That's what we want; we want the top 100 players to be able to compete against each other, and that way you can see who is the champion, the true champion.

Q. Have you gotten to either play or see Winged Foot yet, and if not, how do you think in theory this course prepares you for that?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: I haven't seen Winged Foot at all. I feel like my preparation for majors is playing nine on Monday, 18 Tuesday and nine on Wednesday, and I feel like that is enough for me to be able to try and navigate my way around the course. From what I've heard, this course is kind of a similar style with the trees and the types of grasses. Obviously it's only just down the road, so it should be fairly similar.

I've heard, once again, that that's an incredible golf course. I know Davis won the PGA there maybe in '97, so I'm really looking forward to it. I'm still so young, 26 years old, and I'm still trying to get majors under my belt. Every one I play in is a great thrill for me.

Q. Tell me if you agree with this: There's a knock against the younger players, younger generation on the PGA TOUR, that the art of shot making has been lost in part because equipment is such that the ball flies sort of straight and you don't have to steer it around doglegs and things like that. Tell me if that's accurate in your estimation.

TREVOR IMMELMAN: I would say it's accurate, but I don't think as you said it can be a knock against the younger players. We grew up in a generation of, as you say, technology and equipment just getting to a level that is incredible. You know, that's the way we had to grow up and play. We had to grow up playing with a stronger grip than maybe 30 or 40 years ago, longer drivers, balls that don't spin as much. When you've got a ball that doesn't spin as much versus an old ball from 20 years ago, it's difficult to curve it if you struggle to spin it.

So that's just the way we grew up; that's what we had to deal with. I think if technology was the same as 20 years ago the players would be similar in the way that they play. I don't think you can knock the younger players, I just think that's the way it is, and that's how we've had to grow up and learn how to shoot as low as we can, just by taking advantage of the equipment and maybe a little less shot making.

Q. Do you see on the Tour when you're playing with an older player or on the range or something like that, playing with a guy that clearly has experience trying to play different shots, playing a sweeping draw or a high cut or something like that, that he puts it into play much more than a younger player just because he did so in the past?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: No, I wouldn't agree with that. I think that everyone out here is obviously a professional, and the guys who have been around, the experienced guys have been around so long that they're pretty good at adapting to what's happening. Everybody has gotten used to the technology, everybody is taking advantage of the technology, and everyone is just playing accordingly.

You get guys like Vijay and Freddie Couples and J.L. Lewis who are older, but those guys are bombing it over corners and hitting it on par 4s and getting on in two to par 5, so everybody adapting and just getting on with it.

Q. Where do you see your stature in the game right now?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: 5'9", pretty short (laughing).

Like I said, I feel really young, 26 years old. I think hopefully I've got at least another 20 years ahead of me playing at a somewhat good level, and I'm really enjoying my time right now. It's great for me to be able to have the opportunity of getting in the hunt at big tournaments against top notch fields. I've really enjoyed that.

I've put so much work in away from tournaments on my game, on trying to get as strong as I can, trying to work on my mental approach, that for all of us when we put that much effort in, to see results, it's really satisfying. You know, I'm just enjoying it. I don't really sit back and think how I would rate myself against the other players; I'm just trying to do the best with what my talent is and just trying to win golf tournaments, really.

Obviously everyone looks at the World Rankings and I've climbed up to 34th in the world, so that's nice. I'd love to keep improving that and just see how far my talent can take me. That's kind of the way I look at it.

Q. Do you want to win a few events on the PGA TOUR first before you look at a major?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: If I had had it my way, the first tournament I had ever won would have been a major, but it's never that simple. I think if I play my best golf I can win a major. I think I'd be shooting myself in the foot if I had to go to majors not thinking that I had a chance to win. Like I said, I think if I'm playing my best golf and things go my way, sure, I could be there on a Sunday. I've proved to myself in regular Tour events that I can hang in there with some of the best players, so I'd love to be in that situation and see what could happen.

Q. Do you still want to be a world player, as you have been already, but more of a world player like Ernie and Retief?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: That would be first prize, really. It's very difficult to do. I think you need to be Top 5 in the world, major champion, really established household name, otherwise I think it becomes too difficult to have divided interests. You really need to focus. The competition is so strong nowadays that to only play 15 or 16 events on the PGA TOUR, you really need to make sure that you're a Phil or a Tiger or an Ernie or one of those guys that we mentioned, otherwise you're really going to end up being middle of the pack on all the orders of merit and not really getting anywhere.

Q. Do you think playing more here gives you a better chance to be a major winner?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: That's a very good question. I think the advantage of growing up playing in Europe or growing up say my first four or five years as a professional, we got to play in so many different conditions. At the time it felt like every week was like this outside, but when you sit and think back, you're playing in Australia, South Africa, China, all over the place, so you really get to experience a lot of different things golf wise, types of grass, weather conditions. So I think that has been an advantage for me so far.

I think the advantage to the PGA TOUR is that the courses are just unbelievable golf courses we get to play, great conditioning. I think it's easier to gain momentum on the U.S. Tour maybe because the travel is a little easier and the way the courses are set up seem to be similar week in and week out because obviously you're in the same country. So I think there's advantages to both. Obviously we were in a period maybe ten years ago you had maybe 10, 15 years ago you had Olazabal, Langer, Faldo, Sandy Lyle, at that point those guys were playing in Europe full time and they were going to major events. Obviously Tiger and Phil have kind of taken over from there. I think it's a mixture, really. It's where you feel comfortable, it's how you enjoy preparing. At the end of the day you've got to believe that what you're doing is right and that's going to be the best plan for you, and that should work.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Trevor Immelman, thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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