Johannesburg – When South Africa’s Trevor Immelman donned the fabled Green Jacket after winning the Masters in 2008 it was with a feeling of unbridled elation that he had arrived as a golfer as a Major champion.
On Sunday, when he put on the second green jacket of his career, it was with a feeling of relief – relief that he hadn’t disappeared as a golfer.
This time the jacket was for winning the Hotel Fitness Championship, the first of four events in the new Web.com Tour finals. It earned the 33-year-old $180 000 but even more importantly, it guarantees him a card for the 2014 PGA Tour.
With injury and loss of form plaguing him since that 2008 Masters success, Immelman lost his card for the 2013/14 PGA Tour, so it is with a great sense of relief that he now has his playing privileges back, courtesy of Sunday’s win.
“There’s no doubt this is huge for me. It’s been a long, frustrating road for me,” he said in a post-victory interview with US media. “It was so disappointing to lose my card. I’m not going to lie, I’ve struggled since 2008. I’ve been wondering if I’d be able to get back to playing the way I know I can play. Now I know I can.”
With a birdie at the final hole at Sycamore Hill GC in Fort Worth, Immelman closed with a 66 to finish at 20-under-par 268, one shot better than 54-hole leader Patrick Cantlay.
Prior to this win, Immelman had made only 12 of 24 cuts this year, his lone top-10 effort a tie for ninth at the RBC Heritage. “I started playing much better the last couple of months but ran into troubles here and there on weekends,” he said. “I started seeing so many nice signs that this may be turning around. But to be honest, up until this win the only real positive I could take out of it was that I was finally injury free.”
Immelman started the final round five shots back of 21-year-old Cantlay who could only manage a 72.
Brought up in Somerset West, Immelman dreamed of becoming a world champion since the age of five. A hard work ethic saw win two SA Opens, the Western Open on the PGA Tour when he beat Tiger Woods down the stretch, and the Masters. He had truly arrived in golf. Then he all but disappeared. Now it looks like he may well be back.