Immelman in quest to regain 2008 form

Six of the players in this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando, Florida have 10 Masters green jackets between them – and every one of them is fighting to regain the form that won them that sought-after garment.

While the struggles of Tiger Woods are well documented, and the battle of Phil Mickelson to regain the form which made him an obvious successor to Woods as world number one marginally less so, not too much media attention has been lavished on the travails of Vijay Singh, Zack Johnson, Mike Weir and Trevor Immelman.

Singh has shown glimpses of his major-winning form this year, but, at 48, perhaps the chances are diminishing of his returning getting into the kind of dominating form which saw him win 22 titles after turning 40.

Johnson has just never regained that startling rhythm which saw him win his title in 2007, although he has won five times since – most recently with eye-opening efficiency at Colonial last year with a 21-under-par total.

And the left-handed Canadian Weir has won only twice since his 2003 Masters title, and has been battling injury for what seems like forever.

So what of Immelman?

Well, he hasn’t won since he donned the green jacket in 2008, and, to outsiders, his descent to the nether realms of the Official World Golf Rankings has been worryingly precipitous.

But insiders know that he has had health issues, as well as constant tendinitis in his left wrist and elbow – an injury which forced his withdrawal from the 2009 US Open and has plagued his attempts at getting back on track ever since.

It’s been a grind for him in 2011 – a slow and not always satisfying climb up the leaderboard: He finished in a share of 73rd in the Honda Classic, 69th in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, 29th in the Northern Trust Open and 28th in last week’s Transitions Championship.

The upward trend will of necessity get more difficult, but, for Immelman, the gratifying thing is surely that it is upward.

And he will take confidence from his middle rounds last week, during which he carded 66 and 68, and looked as if he was getting into some kind of shape ahead of what has been an emotional return to Augusta for him every year since 2008.

But he will want to continue the upward trend in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he will have South African company from defending champion Ernie Els and from Charl Schwartzel, who finished in a share of 52nd last year behind Els.

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