Trevor's Turnaround: Immelman wins the 2008 Masters Tournament

Trevor Immelman, Augusta, Masters
Robert Beck/SI
Immelman all but sealed his three-shot victory with a par save from a greenside bunker at the 17th hole.
Still, Woods looked as though he would make a late charge when he buried a 70- foot bomb for birdie on number 11, causing the crowd in the clubhouse to stir anew. Butch Harmon, Woods's onetime teacher, walked over to a computer and studied the names on the leader board.

"Before it's over, they're going to have to deal with him," Harmon said, and there was no doubt whom he was talking about.

Woods drove right into the trees on number 13, but despite a restricted backswing, he carved a shot off the pine needles, leaving himself a short iron into the par-5. He sent his ball past the pin and spun it back some five feet from the hole. A birdie seemed inevitable. Instead, Woods missed again, air-balling the cup left, and Immelman remained a comfortable five shots ahead.

"I didn't putt well all week," said Woods, who after winning three times at Augusta National from 1997 to 2002 has won just one of the last six Masters.

With Woods's statement before the season that winning the Grand Slam was definitely within reason, it was not far-fetched to wonder if he already considered the 2008 campaign a washout. He insisted he did not.

"You feel deflated because you lost, but the very next day you're fired up about the U.S. Open," Woods said two days before the Masters. "Are you frustrated that you lost? Of course. You don't ever want to lose. I don't understand how you can like losing. But once this tournament is over, you start refocusing and getting your game ready for the next major."

That would be the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, where Woods has won six times as a pro. Nevertheless, the arc of the golf season has changed, pivoting on Woods's errant putter and the steeliness of a 5' 9", 170-pound golfer with his own warm feelings about Torrey Pines. It was there, in 1998, that Immelman won the U.S. Public Links championship, earning his first trip to the Masters.

"I've always dreamed about winning majors," Immelman says. "I'm definitely not going to sit back and go, 'O.K., I'm done,' if that's the answer you're looking for. I'm going to keep working hard and trying to make the most of what I've been given."

At home and on the golf course in Somerset, Immelman was always tagging along with his older brother and his friends, asking questions and trying not to get left behind. Mark's message to him was clear: Keep up or you don't play with us. As Trevor made his way through Augusta's picturesque layout on Sunday, Mark said his mind turned to those moments the brothers shared. But first there was a title to win.

After a shaky opening bogey, Immelman birdied the 5th hole, but he three-putted the 8th for bogey and had to drop a 20-foot putt from the fringe on number 11 to save par. Mike Weir, who has played on two Presidents Cup teams with Immelman, stood beneath the big oak tree outside the clubhouse, saying that the South African had the game to hold up in gusts of up to 25 miles per hour, and he was right.

Immelman would tempt the golf gods with a yanked tee shot into the water that led to a double bogey on the par-3 16th, but by then most of the danger had passed. He saved par from a greenside bunker on 17 to maintain his three-shot lead, and after peeling a drive down the middle of the 18th, he let out a sigh.

The Immelman clan had moved to the walkway behind the green, directly in front of the scorer's shack. Mark kept rubbing his eyes as he stared down the hill, looking at his baby brother, who was dressed in a black outfit similar to the ones that Player made famous.

After an eight-iron from a divot and two putts, Immelman flexed his muscles and looked up the walkway. There stood Carminita and their curly haired boy.

Immelman's 75, the highest final round for a Masters champion since Arnold Palmer shot the same score in 1962, had been enough to beat the field. Snedeker, after a 77, buried his face in a towel to hide his tears.

After the green-jacket ceremony the Immelmans left the well-worn practice green and walked into Butler Cabin. Its back windows, bathed in yellow light, looked out onto a sublime par-3 course shrouded in darkness. Inside the cabin a new champion with a new jacket was lost in a round of hugs.

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