Immelman confident to steal McIlroy’s show
Former US Masters champion Trevor Immelman is hoping to register his first major win in ten years when he tees up at the Dubai Duty-Free Irish Open at the K Club, Straffan, in the Republic of Ireland, starting on Thursday.
The 36-year-old Cape Town-born golfer earned his green jacket in 2008 by edging out Tiger Woods by three strokes and has since been dogged by a spate of injuries. This made it impossible for him to make a mark on the greens at home and in the European and PGA tours respectively where he currently swings his clubs competitively.
He finished a disappointing 97th at the SA Open Championship at Glendower GC, Ekurhuleni, on January 10. He failed to make the cut at the Joburg Open at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington GC a week later.
He says he would like to use the Irish event as a stepping stone to regain his winning rythm.
The contest sanctioned by the European Tour is special in that it is hosted by former three-time major winner Rory McIlroy on behalf of his Rory Foundation for children.
It is the flagship competition on the tour that will feature the cream of the crop showcasing their talent and battling to lay their hands on the €4 million (R69 million) prize money.
Led by reigning Masters champion Danny Willett from England, the field includes eight major champions among 12 top-50 players in the official world golf ranking. World number three McIlroy heads up the Irish contingent of big winners, which includes 2007 Irish Open champion Padraig Harrington, Darren Clarke, Germany’s Martin Kaymer, Korea’s YE Yang and Immelman, making up one of the strongest fields in the competition’s history.
Immelman said he was confident of boosting his morale by winning the Irish contest.
“I’m fired-up because it has been a long time since I last tasted the victory of a big event like the Masters” said Immelman.
“The fact that the Irish Open is cohosted by a top player like Rory makes for great competition among all top participants. I intend to give it my best shot and win the trophy.”
Denmark’s Søren Kjeldsen is the reigning champion after prevailing in a three-man play-off with Austrian Bernd Wiesberger and Englishman Eddie Pepperell at Royal County Down Golf Club to claim his fourth European Tour title last year.
The Irish Open has a rich history, having made its mark on the European golfing calendar in 1975. Its list of champions reads like a who’s who of golf itself and features luminaries including the late Spanish great Seve Ballesteros, retired New Zealander Michael Campbell and Sir Nick Faldo – an English professional golfer on the European Tour, who is now mainly an on-air golf analyst.
CAREFUL Trevor Immelman studies the green during the Joburg Open TREVOR IMMELMAN