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His injuries healing, Immelman feels like a champ

Saturday, April 10, 2010

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Trevor Immelman had a short, direct answer on whether his chances of winning another green jacket are now beyond him.

"Hell, no," said the 2008 Masters Tournament winner after his 1-over-par second round Friday.

The question wasn't without merit given Immelman's struggle to stay healthy. The South African had arthroscopic surgery in October to repair cartilage on the top of his left wrist. Scar tissue and tendinitis making the bone erode was causing the bulk of the pain.

The wrist is now pain-free, he said, and except for a lack of flexibility, he's beginning to feel like his old top 20 self. He started hitting balls again in February.

"You know, this time last year I was really struggling making the golf swing I wanted to make, and by the summer I couldn't hardly hold onto the golf club," Immelman said. "So, for me to be back here this week and to be in the hunt with two days to go, it's been a lot of hard work that went into that."

It's been a while since Immelman has been in contention. He has had only two top 10s in 30 events since his Masters win two years ago, with nine missed cuts. His world ranking has dropped from 14th right after his Masters win to its current 263.

He said he knows few expect him to be giving an acceptance speech Sunday despite shooting a 3-under 69 on Thursday.

"I hardly played golf last year and I only played a few events this year and made cuts and that was about it, so there's no point in anybody mentioning me," he said.

Immelman battled back from a series of health issues in 2007 to win in Augusta the next year. He expects a similar comeback.

"You know, it's been a long, hard grind for me to rehab this wrist and get back to the point where I feel I can play the way I need to," he said. "This week is just a step in the right direction for me."

Reach Mike Wynn at (706) 823-3218 or mike.wynn@augustachronicle.com.

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