South African Trevor Immelman claimed his first United States PGA Tour title when he held off world number one Tiger Woods to win the Western Open on Sunday. Immelman clinched victory by sinking a 30-foot breaking putt for birdie at the last to complete a round of 67 for a total of 13-under 271, two clear of Woods and Australian Mathew Goggin.
South African Trevor Immelman claimed his first United States PGA Tour title when he held off world number one Tiger Woods to win the Western Open on Sunday.
Immelman clinched victory by sinking a 30-foot breaking putt for birdie at the last to complete a round of 67 for a total of 13-under 271, two clear of Woods and Australian Mathew Goggin.
Woods mounted a back-nine charge with four birdies to move within one stroke of Immelman, before the South African sealed his win.
The 26-year-old Immelman, twice a runner-up on the US Tour in May, fell to the ground after the birdie putt dropped and rolled on to his back in glee.
“That was utter disbelief that the ball had disappeared,” Immelman said about the celebration of a triumph worth $900Â 000.
“It was a fantastic day. I really enjoyed every minute of it. To hole that putt on the last was just—it gives me goose bumps thinking about it.”
Immelman, who has four European Tour wins, had come agonisingly close to breaking his duck in the US with runner-up finishes at the Byron Nelson and the Wachovia Championship.
“He has come so close,” Woods said. “He has an inordinate amount of talent. Good for Trev.”
The young South African showed he had the nerve to hold off a host of challengers.
Immelman snapped a four-way tie for the lead with a birdie at the 10th hole. A few minutes later, six players were knotted at 10-under, one shot behind.
Woods stayed in the hunt as did Goggin and third-round leader Vijay Singh, all three at 11-under in the closing stretch.
Immelman made a tap-in birdie at the par-five 15th and a 10-foot putt at 16 for birdie to boost his lead to two shots.
A bogey at 17, where his tee shot settled against the collar of deep rough, closed the gap to one, setting up Immelman’s dramatic finish.
“It was such a tricky putt,” he said. “It’s one of those putts that you’re actually not even looking at the hole because there was probably three yards of break on that. I was really just trying to throw it up there to the right side and hope that I got the right pace on it.”
After Immelman’s celebration, world number three Singh hit his approach shot into the water and ended with a double-bogey six for nine-under 275.
The Fijian finished tied fourth with last year’s winner Jim Furyk, Stewart Cink, South African Tim Clark, Australian Stephen Leaney and Sweden’s Carl Pettersson.
Immelman’s win marked the end of one of US golf’s oldest traditions. Known as the Western Open since 1899, the tournament will be named the BMW Championship next year and will become part of the PGA Tour’s season-ending series, rotating out of the Chicago area on alternate years.
Immelman said he was eager to get home to Florida to share his triumph with his pregnant wife, Carminita, who is expecting their first child in three weeks.
The South African said his participation in this month’s British Open was up in the air.
“It’s going to be decided whether the little guy arrives next week or not,” he said. “If nothing crazy happens by Saturday, I’ll probably go over to the British Open and try and get back as soon as I can.”—Reuters