LONDON - South Africa's Trevor Immelman accepts he is reaching a crunch point in his career with the former US Masters champion admitting he can no longer routinely compete with the world's best despite the odd "glimmer of hope".
One of those "glimmers" came with a second round of 64 in the Scottish Open at Gullane, near Edinburgh, on Friday. It was a reminder of the quality the 38-year-old Immelman displayed in holding off Tiger Woods to win at Augusta National back in 2008. But the past decade has seen Immelman, who now combines his on-course career with work as a television analyst, win just one tournament and, beset by injuries, drop so low in the world rankings that earlier this year he was listed at 1,959.
A top-10 finish at Gullane would give Immelman a chance of qualifying for next week's British Open at Carnoustie, but the player himself was under no illusions about whether his game was good enough to deliver another major title. "I'm quite sure that it's not," he said. "That is a very difficult time mentally for an athlete, and everybody faces it at some point. The tricky part for us is it sort of becomes our life.
"It becomes a massive part of you and the danger is you start to live and die by every shot and every tournament. Am I in the Rolex Series events? Am I in the Open? Am I in the majors? You do that for a decade and that starts disappearing. All of a sudden you're like a man without a country. But this game has been really good to me. I have nothing to complain about whatsoever.
"I was lucky to play my best when Tiger was playing his best so I rode his coat-tails for a few years and did quite well. This is my 20th year out on Tour and in any other sport it's kind of unheard of. That passion and sort of glimmer of hope, it's always going to be there. But doing the TV stuff has been a fantastic distraction for me from that standpoint because I can still go and speak about the game that I love and try and explain how good it is, what these guys and girls are doing and how tough it is."
Thanks for all the well wishes, support and encouragement.
Long way to go, but was fun to shoot a low one.
As for the chance to play at Carnoustie instead of commentating, Immelman added: "Yeah, my boss may not be too happy about that. If I'm on the 18th tee on Sunday and a chance of that, it might cross my mind, but there is a long way to go here. So I'm just going to go enjoy this 64. It's the best round I've shot in a long time, and see what happens."