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December 17, 2008

Trevor Immelman


Q. How did you find the course today?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: You know, the course is in incredible condition, it really is. It's just immaculate which, you know, I've come to expect that. That's kind of the way I expected the course to be, to a high standard, and they have always turned out a fantastic course, for the members day-in and day-out.
That's our trademark down here in the Cape, so I think the guys that work in security, they woke up this morning and will experience what it's really like.

Q. (Thoughts on winning Masters and possibly SA Open this year)?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Never really thought about it like that to be honest. You just go out and work as hard as you can and play as hard as you can and the best guy on the week will win. And it would be fantastic to keep it in the South African band. That's obviously our first goal and I'm going to be giving it my best to play as well as I can.
You know, golf has become such an international game now, we have such a strong field here; anybody could win the trophy this week.

Q. (About reflecting on Masters win).
TREVOR IMMELMAN: I think that's a very good question. I think that something that a lot of players feel. Our whole lives we work towards a specific moment of trying to win a major championship. And when you achievement, there's definitely a time afterward to where you try to come to grips with the fact with what you've achieved and trying to understand your place in that tournament's history.
And so there's definitely a short time there to where you kind of are just caught up in the whole whirlwind of activities, on and off the golf course. So like I said, I think that lasted for me for a couple of months really, trying to digest what happened to me. I put so much time into trying to give myself a chance to win a major.
But then I think, you know, you need to sit back and really take stock of where your career is and what your goals are moving forward and what you would like to do moving forward. And to me, it's all about just trying to improve my game week-in and week-out and just trying to become a better and better player. Because if I do that, then I know that I can give myself chances to win more majors. That's the way I measure my career at the end is how many major championships you win.
I know if I keep working at my game and try to become better, hopefully I'll give myself more chances to win more majors. It's a very interesting question you ask me there, because there definitely for me was some time to where I was kind of trying to figure out what my next move will be.

Q. (Would you have imagined yourself where you are now a year ago)?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: No way. Because exactly a year ago, we were sitting here doing the same press conference, except there were less people on that side of the room. I had a tumor in the left side of my body, and none of us knew it, until the next day.
So you know, for me to go through that process of having the surgery, having that extracted, the whole process which was, you know, over two months long, to start practice again and to win a major championship in early April was just mind-boggling really. And that's also -- to the previous question, another reason why I think it took some time for me to really understand. Before I won the Masters, three or four months before, I'm laying in a hospital bed hoping I don't have cancer or something like that.
It was just a really crazy first six months of the year for me. But you know, no way at this time last year -- to be honest with you, I wasn't thinking that far ahead. I had to deal with all of that surgery and stuff first. You always hope it's around the corner, but golf has become so popular and strong around the world, you play your best and then hope for the best.

Q. How do you feel now?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: I feel great. I've had no side effects whatsoever since the surgery. Hopefully I don't fall over, but no side effects. I've been playing and practicing like I normally would.

Q. (About growth of Tour).
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, I get goosebumps. It's a cliché, but it's a dream come true, it is. I grew up here in South Africa watching professional golf, watching The European Tour, listening to Renton Laidlaw commentate about Seve and Sandy Lyle and Ian Woosnam and all those guys. You know, so for me to join them and become a Member of The European Tour is something that's just extremely special for me and that I will cherish for the rest of my like.
I started my professional career on The European Tour -- it must be ten years now, so it's exciting for me. It's also exciting to be part of The Race to Dubai. I think it's been an incredible move by The European Tour. They have created a premiere package and made a big spectacle of what the Tour was, and to get this sort of a system going into the big events at the end of the year in Dubai, it's fantastic.
I travel all over the world, and you know, this move by The European Tour has garnered a lot of interest. A lot of people are talking about it and a lot of people are excited about it. It's an exciting time for The European Tour and it's great for me to be part of that.

Q. Will The Race to Dubai change your schedule in any way?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Well, to be honest with you, it's not from the stance -- obviously after I won Augusta, it really gave me the opportunity to set my schedule the way I wanted to, and so I'm able to pick and choose the events that I want to play, and it gave me a lot more freedom to start playing more golf outside of America again.
Obviously having a two or three-year period to where I was trying to establish myself in the States and make sure I keep my card and do all of the things I wanted to do in the States. Really opened doors for me in the fact that I can take a look at the schedule and make sure how I'm going to play the right number of events and feel like I can compete in The Race to Dubai, as well as the FedExCup. My schedule will hopefully enable me to do that.

Q. What will you play next year to start?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: At this point I'm only scheduled to play Abu Dhabi. I'm really looking forward to it. I've never played there before. I've played the other two events on that Dubai swing, so I'm really looking forward to getting to Abu Dhabi and experiencing it all. The players that I've spoken to have said that it's a top-notch event, and so I'm looking forward to making my first appearance there.

Q. Can you talk about playing in the Kenyan Open, and when was that?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: I believe it was 2000. I went down with a few friends of mine who were are playing in the Kenyan Open that year, and that was the first event scheduled on the Challenge Tour in that season. It was an exciting time to be there and exciting for us to go play. For me, that really gave me the opportunity that we had to go ahead and finish in the Top 15 on the Money List which allowed me to get my European Tour card for the main tour.
So I have fond memories and that's kind of where it all started for me. That tournament allowed me to make enough money to finish 10th on the Order of Merit and give me my full status in 2001. So that's kind of where it all kicked off, so I have fond memories of that tournament.

Q. (About quality of fairways).
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Yeah, I really do believe that. That wasn't an embellishment at all. That wasn't me trying to say something that's the not true or make anybody feel good. I really feel like these fairways are some of the best, if not the best, that I've ever played on. I'm not even sure what type of a grass it is. We don't find it that often here in the Western Cape.
I grew up playing kikuyu, which is a lot thatchier and obviously the ball sits up. But it doesn't grow in as well. It almost doesn't look as pretty. But you come here, and just the colour of it, the texture of it, the way it feels striking through the ball, it really is fantastic. I don't think I've played anywhere in South Africa, definitely I haven't played anywhere in South Africa with fairways that are this good, no doubt about it.

Q. (About wind this week).
TREVOR IMMELMAN: No, no chance. You have to understand something, today is not windy for us. Today is normal. So, you know, I'm expecting between 20 and 40 kilometers an hour every day, that's just the way it is. This is definitely not -- from a weather point of view, this is not our best time of the year. Our best times of the year are October, November and sort of March and April. That, for me, when I was growing up, was always the best time to work on my game, mild temperatures and not as windy.
December and January, you always pretty much, six days out of seven, you're going to have a strong southeaster. So I expect it to blow, and I've prepared myself for it to blow, and hopefully I can deal with it. It's been a long time since I've played in wind this strong. The Open Championship was the only tournament I can really think of this year. But you know, it's going to take something special to compete in this kind of wind. It's not easy out there.

Q. (About keys to playing golf course).
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Started to pick up -- I think he's one of my favourite designers. I think the par 3s are fantastic here. I think obviously all of us, if the course was the other way around, so 1, 2, 3, really nice, demanding par 3 that I think has been well designed. It's nice to see that we are playing with the 3 tee forward. Last year it was too difficult. It's a beautifully-designed hole, because the player can bail out to the left and hit it into the bunker, but really once you get down there, you find that you have a really, really difficult bunker shot and you have no chance of making three anyway.
So you just need to stand up there and take that shot on. It's not a very big target. You only just stand up there and make a good golf swing and hope to find the greens and 2-putt from there.
I think that's a really nice par 3. And then for me, the toughest hole on the course is the ninth hole. You know, today, you're hitting a wood into that hole and obviously you don't have much margin for error on your tee shot and the second shot you have water on the left and the bunker on the right. So once again, you have to stand up and hit two solid shots. Par is always going to be a good score.
Like I said, the course has been well designed. On most of the holes, it's giving you a lot of room off the tee to be able to find some fairways. Most of the holes, as long as you stay out of the water, you'll be in the fairway. And then you've got to try and attack it from there, but it's difficult and it's demanding.
Once you do the work and get to the green, it's difficult to putt with this amount of wind blowing. You'll probably see a few guys missing short putts when they are getting blown around and not feeling too comfortable. So it's going to be a strong test, and that's the way it should be for an event like this.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Thanks very much.

End of FastScripts

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