Immelman feels lucky at Masters

Trevor Immelman benefitted from a piece of Masters luck on Saturday, but the third-round leader from South Africa knows it’s Sunday that offers a chance to enter Masters lore.

Immelman (28) had a stroke of good fortune at the par-five 15th when his ball stuck on the steep bank of the green after his third shot.

”I almost hit it too good, and the ball came out on a lower trajectory than what I was looking for, and it just had so much spin on it,” he said. ”I have no clue how that ball stayed up there, but obviously I’m thankful.”

He parred the hole en route to his three-under 69 and an 11-under total of 205 — two strokes in front of rising United States star Brandt Snedeker.

But Immelman shied away from comparisons to American Fred Couples’s miracle tee shot at the par-three 12th in the final round of 1992, which landed on a steep bank but also stayed dry, allowing Couples to go on to claim the title.

”I remember the shot he hit, hung up and he hit a great little chip and made his par there,” said Immelman, who was watching on television back in South Africa.

”You know, though, there’s a massive difference. This is the 15th hole of the third round, and his was the 12th hole of the final round. I was extremely fortunate that my ball stayed up there; there’s still a long way to go in this tournament.”

Immelman, who takes the lead into the final round of a major for the first time, admitted he didn’t know what it was that made that task so daunting to so many.

”I’ve never had the lead going into the final round, so have no clue how to answer your question,” he said. ”All I can ask of myself is to go out there play as hard as I can and believe in myself.”

Certainly Immelman has had enough to remind him recently that there’s more to life than golf. Not long after last year’s Masters, he lost weight due to a stomach parasite.

Late last year he had what proved to be — after a nerve-wracking wait for the test results — a non-cancerous tumour removed from his diaphragm.

”It definitely gives you perspective,” Immelman said this week. ”Made me realise that golf wasn’t my whole life.”

That said, he was excited at the prospect of capturing the Masters Green Jacket for South Africa, as his boyhood hero Gary Player has done three times.

”Obviously Gary has won this tournament three times, and Ernie [Els] and Goose [Retief Goosen] have come close so many times. Tim Clark has come close, and Rory [Sabbatini] came close last year.

”I’m just going to count myself fortunate to be in this position, and I’m just going to go out and give it my best shot tomorrow [Sunday].” — Sapa-AFP

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