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February 26, 2004

Trevor Immelman


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Trevor Immelman, thank you for joining us for a couple minutes here. Kind of a different day on the golf course with the weather and the cancellation of play, but you're out there practicing. Talk a little bit about your mind set going into tomorrow and playing Tiger Woods, the top-ranked player in the field.

TREVOR IMMELMAN: Obviously the weather is out of our hands, and I think all of us would have wanted to have played today, especially now when we're out there practicing and the weather is actually perfect. But it's just one of those things that we've all had to deal with before, so we're all experienced when it comes to that. We just have to wait an extra day.

For me, I'm relaxed. I'm really looking forward to playing against Tiger. I think it's going to be a lot of fun. You know, I have a lot of respect for Tiger and for everything that he has achieved in the game, and I think I'm just going to go out there and give it my best shot and see what happens.

Q. You've had a lot of success at Match Play at every level, Junior Golf. You won the Pub Links a couple years ago. Talk about what the secret has been for you.

TREVOR IMMELMAN: I don't really know, to be honest. You know, I guess around this golf course, especially with it being as wet as what it is, you can win holes with pars because if you drive the fairway -- if you hit it in the fairway and hit it on the green, the greens are fairly small, then if you can figure things out on the greens -- you know, if you make 18 pars around here, I know it sounds really weird, but you're going to win a few holes with pars.

As I said, the greens are so small that if you can hit most of the greens, you're going to have 20 feet to the hole all day. That's my game plan, is to try and hit every fairway and every green and take my luck from there.

Q. You've won already this year. Do you feel like your game is in pretty good shape?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, not really. I mean, I won my first start out, which is surprising. I had six weeks off in the off season and I was just kind of getting into it, so that was a great start for me. I've just had two weeks off now, went on honeymoon to the Great Barrier Reef, so if I was a horse you would say I've kind of lightly run coming into this event. That's why I'm just taking it day by day. Every day things have kind of improved a little bit more from my golf game point of view. I don't know, hopefully when I wake up tomorrow I'll be bringing my best to the course.

Q. Do you view this as pretty much an opportunity tomorrow?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, I don't think it's going to make or break my career. I'm 24 years old, and hopefully I'm going to be around for a long time competing in big tournaments like this, and I think it's going to be a fantastic experience, more so than being an opportunity. You know, as I said, if I win tomorrow, it will be great, and if I lose, it's just one of those things that's not going to make or break my career, or my year for that matter.

Q. How many times have you played with Tiger?


Q. Where was that?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: The American Express last year in the first round.

Q. What were your thoughts going into it? What were your thoughts while you were playing with him? Were you watching him?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: Yeah. I mean, I've worked with Claude Harmon and done a little bit of work with his father Butch, and I've watched Tiger Woods' golf swing probably a million times, whether it be on TV or on video or on computer. You know, it's great for me to be able to be there right in the front row and watch it. It doesn't affect me, it doesn't bother me, I'm not in awe of it. I can appreciate all the work that he's put in and what he's achieved and I know how incredible that is, but I'm definitely not one of those guys who is just going to go, I'm not going to watch. That doesn't get into my head at all.

Q. Are you satisfied with where you've gotten to in your career so far? Obviously you've had a lot of success early. Would you have expected it this early? What were your expectations?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, I think to start off it was quite slow. I mean, I didn't get my card in the first year and I went and played on the Challenge Tour over in Europe. That was probably the best thing that could have happened for me. I spent a year carrying my own bag traveling to all sorts of different distentions in Europe, so that gave me a lot of experience.

You know, then when I got into the European Tour, I've just progressed every year and gotten a little better. I'm quite happy with where I am right now. You know, as I said, hopefully, health-willing, I'll be able to be around for a lot longer.

Q. Does the weather -- does that play a factor in what you do strategy-wise with match play as opposed to stroke play? Do you choose different clubs or --

TREVOR IMMELMAN: No, I mean, you've really got to go out and play your own game. I'm going to be focused on my game and my swing and my targets and the holes that I think I can do something on. Whether he feels like he's got a similar game plan or something different, that's out of my hands, but I'm just going to go out there and try and hit every shot as well as I can.

Q. You said it's not going to be a defining moment tomorrow either way. Can you tell us what has been a defining moment for you in golf? And if you're not going to be in awe of Tiger, have there been people earlier on in your career that you were in awe of?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: Maybe I used the wrong word. I don't want you guys to go out there and say he's not in awe of Tiger. That's ridiculous. As I said, I've got tons of respect for Tiger and what he's achieved in the game and the way he's gone about it on and off the golf course. I think he's a legend of the game. So maybe using the word "awe" wasn't used properly.

You know, I would put Tiger in the same category as guys like Ben Hogan and Ernie even for me personally, you know, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, I would put them all in the same category.

Q. Back to a defining moment in your career as a golfer. Can you give us a couple?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: I think the best moment for me, to be playing at Augusta as an amateur in 99. You know, that was obviously like -- that was my first real exposure to top-level golf, and that was fantastic, because for some people when you get to that you can be, like, I wonder if I can handle this. You know, I enjoyed it and I look forward to hopefully getting back there this year and experiencing it again.

Q. Is it fair to say that you're more awe-inspired by someone that's not a contemporary, someone that you've grown up watching play versus someone that you obviously play with out here, with the exception of someone like Ernie, who I guess to some extent you grew up watching, as well?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: Yeah. I mean, I've known Ernie since I was five years old, and it might sound weird but we've grown up together. I've watched him play lots of golf, and now we play in similar tournaments. It's kind of weird for me. But yeah, all those guys that I mentioned earlier -- I love the game of golf and I respect the game of golf and I love its tradition and the history of it and everything about it. I'm just a fanatic about the game.

Q. Does the fact that to win this thing you're going to have to play 36 holes three consecutive days, does that have any bearing on you?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: No, it doesn't bother me at all. You know, I think that 95 percent of the players in the field workout and are in decent condition and I don't think it will bother anybody, to be honest.

Q. Is it more mentally a challenge?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: Yes, definitely, because match play is -- one minute, like yesterday on both par 5s, 8 and 11, I thought I was in the driver's seat and I ended up losing the hole. You can have those kind of feelings where you go from feeling good to, geez, what have I just done. Mentally it can take a lot out of you, playing 36.

Q. Given your infatuation with golf, how do you rank the World Golf Championship events or specifically this one? What's your take on it?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, I think it's a fantastic addition to the game. Obviously we've got four majors, and that's what you would really love to win. But these events are fantastic in the fact that you get the best -- top 50, in this place, top 64 players in the world all at the same tournament, and you get them to play against each other on great golf courses all around the world, and I think that's fantastic and I think that's -- for me, I'm all for what brings more attention to the game, and that's why I think these tournaments are fantastic.

This one is unique in the fact that it's match play and you've got the top 64 players in the world. That's why they're in the top 64. Anybody can win. You've seen upsets and runaway victories, but anybody can win any match here, and that's what makes it fascinating.

Q. Being from another country, what do you think about playing most years this tournament here, in America, in southern California?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: I would love to see it go to South Africa, personally. We've got fantastic golf courses, fantastic weather, and golf is a huge sport down in South Africa. You can just see with the million dollars every year, you know, we have a huge following. But that's up to the sponsors and I can totally appreciate what -- the sponsors need to take the tournaments to where they think it's going to help them in their business, and that I respect 100 percent. That's their call.

Q. Forgive the very local question, but does the junior world at Torrey Pines seem like another lifetime ago? What do you recall about winning there?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: Yeah, it really does. You know, I played 13, 14 -- age group 13 and 14, that must have been back in 95. And then 96 and 97 I played over at Torrey Pines, and yeah, it does feel like a long time ago. I used to stay on the 17th hole here for that tournament.

Q. During that tournament?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: With the family, yes. I stayed with the host family, same host family for two years. It is kind of weird. I mean, I've hit a lot of balls on this range.

Q. Did you play practice rounds here?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: I've played the course a fair amount of times, yes. We didn't always get to play -- this is a compilation course, so a lot of times we would have gone on the other side and most people don't even know there's more holes down there.

Q. Across the road?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: Yes. It's a fantastic area.

Q. Was that a great moment in your life when you won the 17s, and obviously Tiger had won it before? Did you think about that at the time?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: No, not really. I mean, golf is such a funny game. You've got so many players who were incredible amateurs who never amount to much as pros, and then you've got guys who are so-so amateurs, who didn't even play in events like amateurs and Pub Links and they turn out to be fantastic. It really is a funny game that way. That's why I think as a junior nowadays you've really got to pace yourself because there's so much happening on the world stage of golf now that you want to be careful that you don't get burned out before you're 25 years old.

Q. Would your feeling or approach to tomorrow's match be different if it was Ernie instead of Tiger?

TREVOR IMMELMAN: No. I mean, I've got a lot of respect for both of them. You know, obviously I know more about Ernie's game. Him and I have spent countless hours on the range practicing together, hitting different shots and messing around. Obviously if I was playing against Ernie tomorrow, it wouldn't -- we wouldn't be talking about too much on the course, either. Both of us are going to try our best to win the match. You've really just got to -- even if it was a guy who was No. 300 in the world tomorrow, I don't think my approach would be different. I really can't take notice of what the other guy is doing. I've really got to go out there and play the best golf I can play. If it's good enough, great, and if it's not I'll shake his hand and try and win the next tournament.

Q. Earlier this week Phil Mickelson was in here talking -- of course he has a lot of opinions about everything. He had an opinion about the format of this tournament, where he thought that players should play stroke play for three days and then the top eight go into match play.

I'm wondering if you have an opinion about the format of it and if you think there's something that might be better for the players or if you like it the way it is.

TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, to be honest, I'm kind of a rookie here. This is only my second Accenture Match Play Championship, and I've only been on this stage for a couple years now, so I'm just ecstatic to be here. That's how we used to play junior and amateur golf, is you would play two rounds, kind of qualification, and then the top 8 or 16, or however many you wish, go through, so that would be interesting. Who knows? I mean, do you honestly think it would have more exposure, get more crowds, more people watching on TV? Nobody knows unless you would try it out. That's where you've really got to do what the sponsors want to do. I mean, they're the ones who put all the money up. We've really got to listen to what they would like to do, and if it's not a bad idea, we're going to do what they want.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Trevor, thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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