Immelman stays on, contends in Phoenix

Trevor Immelman wasn’t going to play the Waste Management Phoenix Open on the US PGA Tour this week, but the only South African in the field changed his mind at the last moment and opened with a four-under-par 67.

He trails leader Ryan Palmer by three strokes after the first round was not completed as darkness set in.

“I took three months off at the end of last year,” said Immelman. “Disney was my last tournament before Humana, and so I had a lot of time off, and I got there, and even though I had done a lot of practice at home, I was extremely rusty playing wise, so I was very disappointed with my start there, and I played a little better last week, and I just figured I’d be better off playing here in a tournament than standing on the range at home.”

He was right, as he shot out to four-under through nine. But he wasn’t able to sustain that effort. “I made a couple to get to six-under, and I was playing nicely, and then just unfortunately made a few mistakes there coming in. I wasn’t very tidy there on the last four or five holes to be honest,” he said.

So while he wasn’t too impressed at making those errors, there has been an important qualitative change to the start of his year. “I figure I’ve got to get some momentum, and going home after playing decently last week wasn’t the right decision,” he said.

Tournament play has turned out to be the practice he needed: “When I go home I tend to get a little too caught up in the nuts and bolts of it rather than getting the ball in the hole,” he added.

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