Immelman survives dramatic final-round duel to win Nedbank Challenge

2007-12-03 00:00

SUN CITY — South African Trevor Immelman banked his first $1,2 million winner’s cheque when he won the Nedbank Golf Challenge by a single stroke at the Gary Player Country Club yesterday.

Immelman survived a late final round scare in which he bogeyed his final three holes for a 72 to win on 16 under par 272.

Rose was tied for the lead with Immelman playing the par-four 18th, but double bogeyed the hole to finish second on 15 under par 273 with a 73. Ernie Els finished third on 11 under with a final round 72.

A dramatic final-round duel between Immelman and Rose came to a head over the final three holes.

Immelman was two strokes clear of Rose standing on the 16th tee, and headed for a seemingly comfortable victory.

But his two bogeys at 16 and 17 saw him slip into a tie for the lead with Rose playing the last. However, Rose added a further twist to the finish when he pulled his drive into the left rough, forcing him to lay up short of the water. His third landed in the grandstands and he went on to make a double bogey.

Immelman found the middle of the fairway with his drive and put his second into the rough at the back of the green. He then made a mess of his chip, which remained in the rough, but followed that with a chip to one foot from the hole, where he made his bogey putt for the title.

“When I duffed that chip I wanted to drown myself in the lake … ,” Immelman said afterwards. “To come through like this and win is the highlight of my career.”

Immelman played sublime golf for three rounds, but struggled with his swing on the final day. Starting the round tied for the lead with Rose, Immelman couldn’t hit the fairway with his drives on the first two holes and watched as the Englishman moved two strokes clear of him.

But he worked his way back into a share of the lead through 12 holes, then moved two ahead when Rose bogeyed 13 and he birdied 14, before the drama of the final holes.

“I didn’t feel like I had my best game out there. I was fighting my swing all day,” Immelman said. “But I’m proud of the way I stuck it out and it’s amazing that I’ve had a chance to win this tournament which has always meant so much to me.”

Immelman was a late replacement in the event following the withdrawal of Sergio Garcia.

“I owe Sergio a couple of beers because he got me in. I’m sure he’s already sent me a text message on my cellphone saying he wants a percentage of my cheque,” he said.

Rory Sabbatini closed with a 71 to finish fifth on six under par, while Charl Schwartzel finished 10th on two over, with a final round of 74.

— Sapa.

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