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March 11, 2008

Trevor Immelman


LAURY LIVSEY: We would like to welcome Trevor Immelman to the media center here at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. You are playing your fifth straight week on, Tour and this is your sixth consecutive Arnold Palmer appearance. Can you talk about the state of your game and how you're doing?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, obviously it's pretty exciting for me to be here. I live in town, so this has always been a tournament that I've enjoyed playing. Scott Wellington and his group here have always done a great job putting the tournament together and they helped me out giving me a few invites back in the day, so it's always a tournament I'm going to try and give back to.
Has it been that many, is this my sixth? That's awesome. This is my fifth week on the spin, as you say. I've had a few weekends off, so it doesn't really feel like it. (Laughter) you know, the state of my game is not quite where I want it to be obviously. I feel like I've made some good strides over the last few weeks and starting to get back to some of the things I enjoy seeing when I'm out there. I just haven't really quite been able to put it all together yet. So hopefully this is the week.

Q. Has it been the putter mostly or just a little bit of rust from the layoff and the surgery, and is it like a different thing every time you play?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: No, I would agree with you. It's been the putter mostly. I've really addressed that in the last couple weeks. I've been putting some good time in to try and improve that.
You know, I would say that's the main culprit. That's probably a fair assess many. For me normally, before I start a season, I would be putting in, you know, probably a month of preparation. So I've kind of seen this sort of four or five tournaments that I've played so far this year, as it's kind of been like my preparation, unfortunately. You know, that's not the way I would normally like to do it, but that's just the cards that I was dealt.
You know, that's something that I've had to deal with, but like I said, my game is definitely on the up. It's just a matter of me putting it together and getting some confidence going again. I would say that's the main thing.

Q. Somebody said the first time you saw Sergio, he made you show him the scar.
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Yeah. (Laughing).
You know, it's kind of crazy, you still sometimes don't quite believe it's happened to you. But you know, my health is great. I feel fantastic. I'm fit and I'm in shape. And you know, I've just got to be patient with myself. I've put all the time in. I've been working hard, I've been focused and dedicated, and you know, so I really just think it's a matter of time before I start firing again.
I don't think anything has changed. I don't think, you know, anything silly has happened. I just feel like I've got to be patient with it and let it come back.

Q. Is it more advantageous or disadvantage, playing in your adopted hometown, sleeping in your own bed, but people coming over; is it advantageous or is it a disadvantage?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: That's a good question. You know, I enjoy it. For us we spend so much time on the road that any time you can be home, it's a thrill.
But the thing you've just got to watch out for is that because we're so used to getting up at the hotel and coming to the golf course and eating breakfast here, all of a sudden this morning, I had to make breakfast for myself. I'm not used to that.
So you've just got to make sure you've stayed disciplined with regards to your warmups and making sure that you do what you normally do when you play a tournament. You know, I enjoy it. I enjoy being able to stay at home and play, and I've normally played well, you know, the weeks I can stay at home.

Q. Cheerios, was it?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Close. It was granola and fruit and yogurt. Yeah, so had to throw it all in the bowl myself. I was very upset.

Q. No hotel wake-up calls?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: No, I have a 19-month-old son for that.

Q. When you were coming up in your developmental years, were you -- hard to put this delicately. Were you more focused on swing technique versus putting, and is that something you're trying to make up for now? Something that Charles Howell had mentioned the other day and I wonder if you would put yourself in similar class, a guy that had good natural feel and didn't think that much about it and now you're trying to address things and probably thinking more about putting than you ever did before?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: I think out here, Charles and myself and the young guys, we grew up in an era of swing instructors, and that was always impressed onto us that you need to have real solid technique.
And so we probably as a whole, all of us spent too much time on our swings and not too much time around the short game area, and you know, I think that's just the way it's kind of -- technology with golf went. You know, everybody wanted to work on their games.

Q. Video --
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Video camera and analyze it and put it up against Ernie and Tiger and all the older players, Hogan and Nicklaus and all those guys. You know, we probably definitely grew up in that era.
But you know, the more I've played as a professional and the more I've realized that the short game is where you get it done.
And I would say with me, what I'm trying to do address is I seem to be more of a -- I would say my wedge play and my chipping is pretty solid, but with regard to putting, just too streaky. So for me, I'm just trying to find ways to make sure that I can keep it a little more consistent and you know, just keep making putts that way.
So there's a few things that I've addressed in my technique that I've been working on, and you know, then it's just getting down to your routines and standing over putts believing that you're going to make it. And the more you hole putts, the more confidence you're going to get, kind of snowballs in that sense.

Q. Do you remember the first time that you met Arnold Palmer, what did you take away from that first-ever meeting?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, I mean, he's just such a gentleman, I find. You know, I've obviously never played golf with him. I've watched a lot of video, and he just seemed to have such charisma about him. You know, something that I haven't seen matched by many sportsmen.
You know, he just comes across like such a gentleman. He really made you feel like you were important to him and that the time that he was spending with you was important to him. And you know, he was paying attention to the stuff I was staying and to the conversation we were having.
And you know, I've been lucky enough to meet a lot of successful people, and you don't always find that. You know, that's probably one of the things that -- one of the many things that endears him so much to people, and, yeah, I mean, he's a fantastic human being. And what he's done for the game, it's kind of probably equivalent to what Tiger is doing now. You know, he took it to a whole other level and made it so popular that all of us, you know, we owe him a lot for that.

Q. Do you remember your first-ever encounter with him, how old you were?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: It was actually here at Bay Hill when I first came over. Like I said, when I first played six years ago --

Q. First-round leader.
TREVOR IMMELMAN: I think I've played -- did I play one and then I've played six in a row? 2003, yeah. So I actually got an invite that year, and so I got to meet him that way.
Yeah, I mean, just a special guy.

Q. On a similar front, Gary Player, who you go back with, and we have pictures to prove it since you were a little pup, he's playing in his 51st Masters this year. Can you address what he's been, similar type of front, in your country? Kind of the Arnold Palmer over there, and of course famous in his own right here.
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Gary is comfortably the greatest sportsman we've ever had in our country. You know, he has been such an incredible role model for us, and for all South Africans.
You know, in fact, I think what had been going on in some of the magazines I've read about the racial comments and stuff like that, I think that was so unfair. I was really upset about it, because I don't think any South African has really put himself on the line as much as Gary has.
You know, I just thought that was so unfair that people would question his commitment to the country. I mean, the guy still lives in South Africa. He's given so much to us. You know, back in the day when there was no tour down there, Gary used to put up his own money for the other guys to play in tournaments and then he would go win the tournament and win it all back. (Laughter) But, you know, he put up his own money so that guys had a place to play.
I was so disappointed when all that stuff came out because I thought he was very unfairly treated.

Q. This is about the golf course being built?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Yeah, I think in Myanmar, I think it was because a lot of that -- there was a lot of that going on in South Africa and people paid a lot of attention to that, and I thought he was very unfairly treated.
You know, to this day, he's my greatest role model and somebody that, you know, I'll always look up to for the way that he's handled himself and the way he's just conducted his business and the way he plays and his dedication and work ethic. He's a fantastic person to have as a role model.

Q. Have you ever met a more upbeat guy in that walk of life?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: No, I never met anybody who has such consistent enthusiasm for what he's doing, whether it be -- the rest of us are sitting in here freezing right now, he'd be like, "Man, isn't it great that the air conditioner works!" (Laughter) he'd be like, "This is the best air conditioner I've ever seen!"
The rest of us are going, like, "Man, can he shut up so we can get out of here because it's freezing." That's exactly the type of guy he is. (Laughter)

Q. Have you played the course yet this week?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: No, I have not. This is my first time here this week.

Q. Can you talk about how tough the finishing stretch is, 16, 17 and 18?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Yeah, well, I mean, it's a love tougher now that 16 is a par 4. It was tough enough when 16 was a par 5. But I've always thought 14 is a bit of a sleeper, that par 3. That's a tough green to hit into. And coming down the stretch, that's a tough hole to get on the right level of the green, and you're always happy when you get away with a par there.
And then if you hit a good drive on 15, you've got a nice opportunity to maybe go at something. There's quite a flat green there. And then you get to the teeth of it, really, because 16 is a little bit of a blind tee shot. You kind of hit over the crest of a knoll, so you don't really see much of the fairway. You just see the two fairway bunkers on the right, so you've really got to have a good line there on 16 off the tee and you've got to hit it straight, because if you miss the fairway, the rough is normally so thick that you've got to lay up.
And when it was a par 5, you could kind of get away it, but now you don't really want to be laying up, so the tee shot is very important. And obviously that green is -- I don't know if they have done any work to it, but that was, you know, really undulating, tough green for a long iron shot on a par 4. So you're always happy to get away with a par there.
And then 17 is a tough par 3. That green normally just gets so firm as the week goes on. You know, normally by the time if we don't get too much rain, normally by the time the weekend comes around, that green is just rock hard and when you're trying to -- when they start getting that flag in the right half of that green, you know, you've really got to be bringing in something high with, you know, probably a little fade on it to try and hold the green.
Many times you can hit a good shot there, and the ball will just roll through, but the problem with it just rolling through is that everybody has walked off there to the 18th tee and so you get back there and your ball is kind of sitting against the grain, which is a real tough chip shot. That's a demanding hole.
And then 18, you know, it's a fairly generous fairway. So you know, that's not the stressing thing about that hole. You know, once you get down there and you've put your drive away, you've got to be real smart with your second shot, because that -- and I know, I've made an 8, at least once on that hole (smiling) -- but that hasn't actually -- you think that it kind of makes a 90-degree turn, but it's actually still running away from you.
So a lot of times, you'll misjudge it and the ball will land on the rocks so it will land just over and spin back from the rocks there, so you've to be very aware of your distance control on that green. So the second shot is, you know, a tough one there, especially when some wind starts coming up.
It's probably one of the toughest finishes on the PGA TOUR, I would say, those last through holes.

Q. Maybe with Wachovia?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Yeah, Wachovia is this there.
I tell you what, I found some new respect for the Bear Trap. (Laughter) Everything has seemed fairly tough to me so far this year.
Yeah, Wachovia is another tough one. Those two holes are quite similar because there's water and the green gets firm and you have to be quite careful there, too.

Q. One of the unique things about golf is how past champions, older guys like Mr. Palmer would write letters of congratulations to young players who were just coming long. Did anyone do that for you, did you receive any sort of congratulatory letters along the way that meant a lot to you and have you done anything with them?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Sure. I mean, I've had obviously plenty of notes from Mr. Player and phone calls and messages and even when I'm not playing well, just to give me something to chew on and think about. So he's really been fantastic with that.
Nick Price has been another one who really has helped me a lot and took me under his wing and fed me a lot of advice. You know, those two guys have been really instrumental in my career.
But you know, I've had notes from Mr. Nicklaus and a few other players. You know, all that stuff means a lot to you, because it's always -- and I'm sure it's the same for you guys in your industry. It's satisfying to be recognized by your peers, and so when something like that happens, it is, it's very special, and I've definitely kept all those things close, close by all the time.

Q. Anything framed or put up in the house?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Two special things that I have actually at my house. The first major that I played as a professional was the 2002 British Open at Muirfield, and Ernie won, and I bought the official painting and he wrote a nice note to me on the painting.
And then my first World Golf Championships event that I played was the American Express at Mount Juliet in Ireland and Tiger won there. I mean, that's a pretty easy guess because he just about wins every World Golf Championships event. (Laughter).
But he actually wrote a real nice note on that poster and they are both up in my office. Those are two things that are special to me.

Q. Would you ever get to the point where you would feel good about dashing a note of congratulations off to a young player yourself?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Yeah, for sure. I don't feel that old yet. And I also probably don't feel like I've achieved enough to where it would really matter to another player at this point.
But for me, absolutely. This game has given me a lot, and you know, at times you get so frustrated with it, but you know, I would love to give back.
So anyway I can, I would definitely do that one day.
LAURY LIVSEY: Thanks a lot, Trevor.

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