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January 30, 2008

Trevor Immelman


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Trevor, for joining us for a few minutes here in the media center at the FBR Open. First week out here on the PGA TOUR. Why don't you just talk about, I think the last time you played was the beginning of December. Just talk about the last two months and your health and just get us up to date.
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, obviously it's great for me to be back. I last played at the Nedbank Challenge and had a great week there, so that was an exciting way for me to finish the season.
Right after that I started feeling some pain in my abdomen and went to the doctor's and we eventually figured out that I had a tumor on my diaphragm. I obviously had to have surgery to have that taken out. So I've been out of the game for a few weeks, unable to play, which was very difficult for me.
But the last eight or nine days I've been able to get back to it and trying to get my game in shape. I'm obviously very excited to have the opportunity to come back and play, and I'm really looking forward to the week.

Q. What part of your game takes the longest to get back?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, obviously the long game took some time, purely because the first few days I was probably a little bit skeptical to really have a full go at it. You know, I've got about a six-inch incision across my back. So I had to give it enough time for that to heal so I could feel ready to go out and make some full, aggressive swings. So that probably took the most time.
Obviously the intricate shots with the short game, that's just purely repetitions. You've got to get out there and get your feel back, so to speak, but all in all, my game feels like it's come back quite nicely and I'm looking forward to getting started again.

Q. Where was the incision exactly?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Across the right side here, runs up at an angle. It was quite interesting, initially from the scan it seemed that the tumor was on the 11th rib, but once they got in there, that's not where it was. It just appeared to be that way because obviously when I was doing the scans I was lying down so it was getting pressed up against the rib. That meant that they had to go in between the 10th and 11th rib and cut through the intracostal muscle and actually take it off the diaphragm.
It was some pretty scary stuff, really. I was in the hospital for a while, and it took a couple days to get the results back, so that was pretty hair-raising. But luckily enough it's all benign and it's all been removed, so I should be ready to go.

Q. When did you first pick up a club after the surgery?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, I had to delay my departure from South Africa. I was supposed to be back here before new year, but we ended up getting back on the 14th of January, which is a Sunday. You know, later after that, the Monday or Tuesday, I live on a golf course at Lake Nona so I just went out and hit a few putts, putted for a couple days and moved into some chip shots and just started that way. So probably the week after I got home, the week of the 15th.

Q. What are your expectations for this week of your game?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, my game, as I said earlier, feels pretty good. And on the range I've been showing some nice form. Obviously I haven't competed in a little while, so I'll probably be a bit brain rusty there.
I didn't want to come back and play until I really felt like I was able to come back and play well. That was the reason I withdrew from last week.
Like I said, on the range my game feels good, so it just depends on whether I can get back into playing well in tournaments this week or whether it will be a little bit further down the road. But my form feels pretty good.

Q. Did you drop a lot of weight?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: No, only five pounds. I spent the whole month of October down in South Africa, really, without playing, just working on my fitness. I got my weight up to 180 and I was probably in the best shape I'd ever been in, so I was well prepared for what happened.

Q. What was the other health -- you had another scare, didn't you?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Yeah, I got like a stomach parasite at Augusta, and that put me out for probably -- also four or five weeks. That one was a little different because --

Q. Was it the pimento sandwiches?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: I don't know what it was, so I'm not sure what to stay clear of this year. That was a little more interesting because it felt like it took three or four months before I felt strong enough to play the way I used to play. Whereas right now I probably don't have as much movement in the tissue around where the incision was, but from a strength standpoint I feel like I'm hitting the ball the same distance as what I was.

Q. Stomach ailment, you lost a lot of weight?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Yeah, that was 25 or 26 pounds in three weeks. I was quite a sickly person last year, which is weird, because I do spend a lot of time on fitness and nutrition and try and look after my body in the right way. That was a tough one for me from that standpoint.

Q. Will this change in any way going forward how you take care of your body, any of these two scares?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, no pimento sandwiches, right (laughter)? But no, like I said, I really do take care of myself because I'd like to play the game for as long as I possibly can, so I make sure I keep my body in the right shape and eat as well as I can. I don't think I really could have done anything differently. Apparently this thing could have been inside me for up to three years now. It was like something that grows out of nowhere, like a real rare type of tumor. No, I don't think I'll change anything at all from that aspect.

Q. You said that it was kind of scary once they took it out because you didn't know. What are you thinking about when it's possible that you don't have a benign tumor?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, I don't know, but I had a epidural and I was getting morphine shots for four days so I wasn't thinking about a lot. After I got out of the hospital it puts a lot of perspective on things, especially ten days prior I was winning such a big tournament down in South Africa that meant so much to me. You kind of go from feeling bulletproof to lying in a hospital bed wondering if things are going to go your way.
I just tried to stay real patient and had a lot of faith that the right things would happen. I feel like there's still things that I need to achieve in my career, so I was kind of just keeping those type of thoughts in my mind and knowing that I would be able to come back and play. Just staying patient and positive, and luckily enough my family -- it happened down in South Africa so I had extended family there and lots of support. All that worked out well for me.
Still to this point, like just me sitting here explaining it to you, I still can't quite believe it's happened to me. Sometimes when you get out of the shower and you see this long cut in your back, it's kind of just really bizarre.

Q. Do you have a time where you'll go back to get it checked out?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, I had it all checked out before I left, and all the X-rays and stuff like that. I was given the all-clear to start like exercising and moving around, stuff like that. That was three weeks ago. But yeah, at some point I'll have to go for some checkups and scans and make sure that there's nothing going on.
The doctors and the surgeons don't anticipate anything else to be happening. I guess it's just move on from here.

Q. What was the date of the surgery?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: 18th of December.

Q. So you were home for Christmas?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Yeah, I got out on the 24th. That was my goal at that point. I had four days in ICU that were tough days, a lot of pain. Yeah, it was really tough. But at that point my goal was to get out of the hospital before Christmas.

Q. You had the result by Christmas?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Yeah. We had the result two days after the surgery. So that was out of my mind, which was nice. At that point it was just me having the goal of getting out, going home for Christmas and just trying to recover as quickly as I can. Yeah, that was nice to spend Christmas at my folks' place, and we had a good time.

Q. The area that the surgery came in, do you have any issues with your swing at all now with that?

Q. None at all?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: No. I have no pain where the incision is at all. Yesterday was six weeks, and all that feels good. So I don't feel like I'm holding back when I swing. I haven't had any pain practicing, practicing for two or three hours at a time. I don't feel like at this point -- and I don't anticipate it to hold me back at all.

Q. Are you still working out?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Yeah, we obviously had to adjust the workouts and initially just lay off some of the upper body stuff, certain exercises, and after that just started sort of a bit of a rehab program, just trying to work that tissue around the area and try and get the elasticity back. But my fitness feels good, too.
You know, I think we'll just have to make some adjustments to start, but from here on out, it should be pretty much back to the way it used to be.

Q. Do you enjoy this kind of atmosphere at this tournament? Is this a fun kind of tournament to play in with as much noise and everything as there is?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Yeah, I think so. Obviously it's the only event like this on TOUR, and it's fun. You expect it when you come here, and obviously in your practice rounds you see all the stands and all the people are up. So it's an event that you come to and you expect it, and I think the key is to make sure that you enjoy the festivities and enjoy the crowds and enjoy everything that comes with it, otherwise you're going to have a long week.

Q. Has anybody said anything funny to you at the 16th hole?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, I try and put earplugs in when I get to the 16th because you can definitely hear the wrong things if you're looking out for it. You know, that's one of the most knowledgeable crowds, believe it or not, ever at a golf tournament. Those guys go on the internet and they research every single player that's going to come through there, and when you get on the tee they scream out something about you. They know exactly who you are and what you're doing, and you just hope you hit a good shot there, that's all.

Q. Does this seem like a different TOUR now, Tiger talking about Grand Slams and I guess Ian Poulter talking about how he thinks he's the next guy, and we've got drug testing coming up and some different cut rule and all this kind of stuff? Does it seem different to you than it did last year?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: No, because last year at this time it seemed like everybody was trying to figure out the FedExCup thing. Last year everyone was asking questions and trying to figure out how the year was going to pan out. So it just seems like at the start of the year that's what happens.
No, I think Tiger playing well is great for the TOUR. As a player, I personally hope that I can elevate my game to try and compete at that sort of a level. But, you know, I think golf is healthy and moving forward.

Q. Do you have a Super Bowl pick?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, I think I'd like to see the Patriots win purely because it might never happen again, and it would be something that I've seen in my lifetime. But you never know.
JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thanks, Trevor.

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