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April 23, 2008

Trevor Immelman


STEWART MOORE: We'd like to members of the EDS Byron Nelson media as well as national media joining us via teleconference. We're here with our current Masters champion Trevor Immelman. What an unbelievable ten days this must have been for you, starting with your whirlwind Tour of New York.
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Yeah, I mean, it's been a pretty crazy time for me. It's been real exciting for my family and I to experience everything that's gone with the victory. We had a great time in New York. It was my first time to New York, so everything was a first time. It was fantastic.
We had a nice couple days at home just trying to reflect on what happened. It still hasn't quite sunk in yet. But it's an exciting time for me.
Now that I'm here, I'm here to try and play as well as I can this week, and I've got to try and focus on this tournament.
STEWART MOORE: You played in the Pro-Am today. Obviously a lot of great press has been out there about the redesign by D.A. Weibring. What did you think of the golf course?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: The golf course is fantastic. I played a few holes yesterday and then played the rest of the course today. It's in fantastic condition. I can't believe it's only been a year. They've done a great job. D.A. has improved every single golf hole. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I think the course is just going to get better with time.

Q. Was there any thought of skipping this event just because of all the distractions and having won the Masters and going through all the stuff you needed to do?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: No, no. Look, after the tournament, obviously those first few days were really crazy. But it's a good type of crazy, you know? And I was enjoying everything that was happening.
But this has always been one of my favorite events. The red pants and all the volunteers, they do just a great job here, give so much money to charity. Obviously Byron Nelson was such a fantastic role model for all of us. I've always enjoyed coming here, so it wasn't really a thought that crossed my mind.

Q. As you mentioned, you like the changes that were made to the golf course, but does that kind of negate all the notes you have from all the success you've had here?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Sure, around the greens, absolutely. The routing has stayed the same, as you know, so the shots you need to hit are the same. But the greens have changed dramatically and the areas around the greens with little swales and hollows and bunkers. But it's fantastic, it really is. It's such a huge improvement.
And I think as soon as word gets out how good the golf course is, you know, you're going to start attracting a lot of great players to this event again.

Q. The 18th hole you had obviously a bad experience there the last time you played when you were in contention. Do you like how that's set up now? Does that help you on that hole on the drive?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, I saw it as a good experience because I hit it in the water but I still made a par, which was quite a nice thing to hang onto second place at that point. I like that hole, and I think it's beautiful with the way the water feature has been designed and the flowers in there and everything. It's very nice esthetically. I'd like to see the fairway a little wider, but you've got to step up and hit a great tee shot there.
It's going to be a great finishing hole, especially with 17, and then on 16 you've got a reachable par-5, so it's going to be a fantastic finish on Sunday.

Q. During your whirlwind Tour of New York, what events or what firsts really stood out to you during your time in New York?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, everything I was doing was a first, you know, from arriving in New York to going on the Letterman Show and doing all the different shows and interviews with different sportscasters and broadcasters, just something that I had never experienced before.
You know, it was enjoyable. The thing that I personally enjoyed the most was going to Madison Square Garden to go watch the basketball game. That was fantastic. I'm a huge basketball fan, and to go there and watch the Celtics play against the Knicks was awesome for me, time for my wife and I just to sit back and enjoy the game.

Q. What did you think of your Top 10 that you had to read?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: There was a few in there that I was a little skeptical about reading, but I think everybody understands that you're having a bit of fun and you're supposed to be generating some laughs. So I thought it was pretty cool.

Q. What was your favorite of the Top 10 and least favorite?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: I'm trying to run through them in my head here. Well, my least favorite was the one about President Bush because I need to make sure that I keep getting visas to come to this country. I don't want to upset anybody, especially not the President (laughter). So that was the one I was most skeptical about.
I knew Tiger would handle his one pretty good, so I wasn't too concerned about that. They were all pretty good. I enjoyed all of them.

Q. Did you hear from Tiger about it?

Q. What did he say?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: He thought it was real funny so he obviously stayed up to see what I was going to say about him. But he thought it was funny, and he was fantastic, as usual. He called me to congratulate me on my victory and told me how well I played and that it's something I'll never forget, and I really appreciated him taking the time.

Q. What's the biggest out-of-body experience you've had so far; you can't believe you're doing something or can't believe someone is asking you to do something? And also, what's the strangest thing you've been asked to sign so far?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, the strangest thing is this: You can see all the Sharpie that's rubbed up onto my hand. That wouldn't normally happen to me. That's purely because I've had to sign so much stuff today. So that's kind of weird. You know how things can change so drastically in the space of a couple weeks. You've got to pinch yourself when you realize that you're the Masters champion and that's the reason all this is happening. But there's been no real crazy stuff I've had to sign yet.

Q. When you talked to Tiger, had he already had his surgery? Did you guys talk about that at all?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Yeah. You know, I think he felt like he needed to get it done. It seems like, as per usual, he's trying to find a positive spin on it and he's wanting to make sure that he comes back stronger, especially in that area around the left knee. I anticipate him to win the next event he plays in (laughing).

Q. Did you have any clue that he had any left knee problems?

Q. Do you have any plans to redo the FedEx commercial with Vijay, FedExCup?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, we'd have to ask Vijay, but yeah, I enjoyed doing it. I thought he was a great sport about it. I think that would be fun.
STEWART MOORE: At this point we'd like to turn it over to our AT & T operator and take some questions from our national media.

Q. I suppose it's never too early, and even if it is I'm going to ask anyhow, if you have thought about the Masters champions' dinner and what menu items you might have next year, and if you haven't thought about it, what kinds of South African foods might we not know about here in the States that you might consider for that menu?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, I haven't spent too much time thinking about it. A lot of people have asked me what I would do. It'll definitely be something with a bit of a South African flavor to it. Obviously down there we do a lot of outside grilling of chicken and steaks and something we call boerewors, which is like a sausage, something like that. We also have a pretty good dish down there called bobotie, which is like a mince dish you surf on rice. It kind of has a bit of a curry flavor to it. There's a bunch of possibilities.
But I'll have to sit down and make sure I get the right things in line there.

Q. And if I can follow up, I know you have a lot of good wines down there, as well.
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Yeah, there will definitely be some of that around, for sure.

Q. I'm running a piece about Brandt, and you played with him for two days. I'm wondering what kind of impression he made on you, particularly amid all his disappointment finishing on Sunday, but then he had that really warm smile for your son Jacob.
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, Brandt is a fantastic young guy. I played with him a couple times in practice rounds before the weekend at Augusta. You know, I think the beauty about him and the reason he relates to well to people is because what you see is what you get. He wears his emotions on his sleeve. You know, that's the type of guy he is. He's going to go out there and give it his all, and if things don't work out the way he hopes for them do, he's going to be disappointed, you know, just as anybody would be.
But I thoroughly enjoyed playing with him. He's a fantastic guy and an incredible player. I think it's incredible that a guy who's only been on TOUR a couple years and only his second Masters to come that close to winning the title. That's a huge credit to him and it's probably something that will stand him in good stead for the future.
The second question was about Jacob. I didn't catch that.

Q. In all his disappointment he still had a very warm smile for your wife and for your son coming off the green. Maybe you didn't pick up on that or see it on TV.
TREVOR IMMELMAN: That's exactly what I would expect from him. Like I said, he's such a great guy. He's an easy-going guy. He's definitely not the sort of person -- I don't feel like he's the sort of person who's going to show any malice or be upset that he's the guy who hasn't won. You know, he's going to let you have your moment.
Like I said, those are attributes that he -- that's the reason why people like him so much and fans enjoy watching him play so much. You know, it's a great thing to have in your personality. Obviously I'm thankful that he was so gracious in his defeat.

Q. I'm going to be heading over to Columbus here pretty soon to do a story on your brother, and I wanted to get your thoughts on how important was he and his teachings in making you the player you are. And specifically on the back nine on Sunday, was there anything that you think you brought to that that he taught you or any words that he had that went through your head at that time?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, obviously he's been a huge part of my life, I mean, just as any older brother is. He's nine years older than me, so when I came along, he was the person that I looked up to. You know, I always used to kind of follow him around. I followed him to all sorts of different sporting events, and all the sports that he tried, I would hang off him and his friends' coattails and try and do the same things they were doing.
He's been a huge part of my upbringing and developing me into the person that I am today. He was a great golfer, so I learnt a lot just from watching him and hanging around him and watching him play and compete.
As for the back nine on Sunday, you know, I was just trying to keep my head above water at that point. To be honest, I wasn't thinking too much about anything like that because I think you've got to be very careful not to get too emotional at a time like that. You've got to make sure that you're thinking clearly and you're not letting your mind wander.
You know, I think it's just a whole host of things that I've learnt from knowing him my whole life, lessons that I've learnt, that come to the fore at that point, not exactly just one thing that sticks out.

Q. Do you think you've helped his business down there and that he might get a lot more customers now?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, he's got a great business right now. He's got a huge following of people that come for lessons down there. His school team has been playing well for the last few seasons. My caddie and I always have a standing joke that anytime I play in Georgia, he's more famous than me because it seems like every time I go to Georgia, I've always got more people coming up saying, is Mark here, is Mark here. I thought his business was doing pretty good to start with.

Q. Obviously in San Diego we're getting ready for the U.S. Open, and with your success at Torrey Pines in the Public Links, I'm just curious about your thoughts on how different the golf course is now than when you won the Public Links, and is it your style of golf course?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, the course is very different, purely because it's so much longer. You know, the USGA went in a few years ago and put in all the new tees and really defended the course with length. I think it's going to be a great test of golf because you're going to have a long course. The rough around Torrey Pines always is thick and juicy, and in the summertime there those greens are going to really start getting firm, which is different to what we're used to playing there in February. Then also being on the coast, you're going to have some wind.
So it's going to be a great test of golf. It's obviously going to be fantastic coverage on TV because there are going to be so many great views for the viewers.
Does the course set up for me? You know, obviously I've played well there in the past, so it's something that I look forward to. I look forward to going to play there. But at any U.S. Open there's two things that are of utmost importance. The first is driving the ball in the fairway and the second is putting your ball as well as you can. I think if I do those two things, then the course does suit me.

Q. One more thing if I might. Along those lines of what you have to do to win an Open, obviously the mental part of it is huge, just kind of sticking in there and staying with it when things go bad because they usually do. How hard is it to approach the Open from a mental standpoint and stick with it and not kind of hate the experience because it's so hard?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Yeah, that's a good question, because you know, there's definitely times out there when you're wondering to yourself how tough these guys can set a golf course up. You know, I think you've just got to really enjoy the challenge. You've got to love being out there, and you've got to love the adversity of just every shot being one of the toughest shots you'll ever have to hit. And that's what a U.S. Open is all about. You need to be able to just hang in there, and sometimes bogey is a good score.
One thing you know at a U.S. Open is that you don't necessarily have to be under par to win the tournament. You've just got to go out there and just try and be as tough as you can. It's just really more a mindset of survival than a regular TOUR event.

Q. And do you feel like you've handled it well in the times that you've played?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, not really. I mean, my best finish is maybe around 20th in a U.S. Open.

Q. Winged Foot, right?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Yeah, at Winged Foot. I think I was tied for the lead at Shinnecock Hills after about 27 holes, and then I four-putted. That wasn't handled very well (laughing).
You know, it's just such a tough test. Obviously I'm going to be going there with more confidence this year than in previous U.S. Opens. You know, who knows, it's still a few months away. Who knows how my game is going to be shaping up. You know, you've just got to go out there and be tough.

Q. I'm wondering, you've always been a guy that asks a lot of questions of other players, and not necessarily just golfers. I think Leadbetter had mentioned that you actually tapped the brain of Roger Clemens along the line at some point. I'm wondering what sort of players have you talked to over the years in sports, and what's been sort of the purpose of that, asking all those questions? What would they have in common that you could apply to golf?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, I've always been fascinated with what it takes to succeed, and whether that be in business or real estate development or sport. It just fascinates me how people found a way to get to the top. So I've always just tried to ask a few questions and tried to figure out how they did it and how they managed to figure out how to do it.
You know, I was fortunate to play an event down in south Florida with Jerry Rice and Roger Clemens and got to spend a few days with them. That was fascinating to me, to hear what those guys had to say as far as routines and preparation and things like that. I spent a lot of time with Jim Courier. He was always a good guy to speak to because he seems to be able to put into words what he did. A lot of top sportsmen I've noticed don't really know how they did it; they just did it because they were so talented.
But the two guys I found that could really put it into words were Nick Price and Jim Courier. They were really able to explain the ins and outs of it to me. You know, I've been able to -- been fortunate enough to be in a position to seek a lot of different advice from a lot of top sportsmen and businessmen. It's just something I enjoy doing, just trying to find out how they did it.

Q. You're probably one of those guys that's asking the various CEOs questions when you're playing in Pro-Ams and asking them as many as they're asking you?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Yeah, I'd say that's fair to say.
STEWART MOORE: We have time for one to two more questions from the floor.

Q. We have a very rare situation at the U.S. Open this year. We're going to a place where the No. 1 and No. 2 players in the world have won nine times, Tiger six Buicks, Phil three Buicks, plus they've won junior events on that golf course. Will a U.S. Open setup be different enough to take away their edge, or how do you think the USGA getting a hold of that will affect that dynamic that we have?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, I think that Tiger can win on any golf course and on any setup. I think he's really excited to be getting there, because obviously as you say, he's had so much success since he was a young kid on that golf course. And when you have that much success on a golf course, when you go there, you remember so many good shots. So I think he'll definitely be feeding off that. He putts better than anyone I've seen on those greens. He just seems to make everything when we play that Buick event there. He's going to have a lot of confidence going into that tournament.
Phil, obviously he's a local boy. He knows the weather and the conditions and probably practices a lot on the poa annua greens down there. They're going to be very comfortable along with having the confidence of being the two best players in the world. You're probably not going to get very good odds if you bet on them because they're going to be the favorites for sure.

Q. How much have you worn your jacket since you got it at Augusta? Have you worn it in Orlando or outside the house or do you have it here this week?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: I wore it a lot on Sunday night after I won (laughter). I didn't take it off until 4:00 the next morning. But I haven't worn it too much since, just for some pictures here and there with friends, but it's all been at home in a casual setting. I haven't taken it out anywhere, other than a couple of the shows I did in New York. I haven't taken it outside of the house. I see it a couple times a day and still have to pinch myself. It's just such an incredible feeling to know that I've won that tournament. That's something that can never be taken away from me.

Q. Is it in your closet at home?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: It is right now, yes.

Q. In your bedroom closet?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Yes, but it's not hanging with all the other jackets (laughter). It's got its own little spot.
STEWART MOORE: Trevor, thanks so much. Good luck this week.

End of FastScripts

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