Immelman faces first test as Masters champion

South Africa’s Trevor Immelman puts his credentials as US Masters champion to their first test in the Byron Nelson Championship from Thursday.

Immelman will be looking to wrest the title from Texan Scott Verplank, who had an emotional victory at his hometown event last year shortly after his mentor, Nelson, had passed away.

World number one and former Nelson champion Tiger Woods, second behind Immelman at Augusta, is missing the tournament after having knee surgery early last week.

Also missing are ex-champions Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh and Ernie Els, but former winner Sergio Garcia is taking part.

The highest-ranked player in the tournament is world number 10 Adam Scott of Australia. Sickness forced Scott to withdraw after an early lead in the Houston Open three weeks ago and he had a disappointing performance in the Masters.

The absences are mainly due to top players still resting after the season’s first Major and a wait-and-see attitude on the new Las Colinas course.

The players and their caddies only had their first look at the renovated course this week, although early impressions have been positive.

“The holes that were good on this golf course, he didn’t mess with, and the holes that needed improvement, like the first hole, are much better,” former Nelson champion Ted Purdy said, referring to designer and long time pro DA Weibring.

Verplank said: “I think the changes to the course are really good and Byron would be proud.”—Reuters

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