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Immelman joins the green-jacket club

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Posted: April 13, 2008 9:49 p.m.
Updated: April 28, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Immelman joins the green-jacket club

Zach Johnson puts the green jacket on Trevor Immelman of South Africa after Immelman won the 2008 Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga. Sunday.


    AUGUSTA, Ga. — Trevor Immelman has never felt better.
    Four months after he had a tumor removed from his back, Immelman handled the wind and pressure of Augusta National far better than anyone chasing him Sunday to win the Masters, the first South African in a green jacket in 30 years.
    Immelman held it together around Amen Corner and stretched his lead to as many as six shots on the back nine, taking the life out of a Masters that began with so much hype.
    A two-putt par on the final hole gave him a 3-over 75, matching the highest final round by a Masters champion. Even so, it was good enough for a three-shot victory over Tiger Woods, whose hopes for a calendar Grand Slam ended with a thud.
    Woods never got within five shots of the lead when he was on the course, twice missed birdie putts inside 8 feet and had to settle for a 72 and his second consecutive runner-up finish in the Masters.
    ‘‘I learned my lesson there with the press,’’ said Woods, who started the talk about a Grand Slam by stating three months ago that winning all four majors in the same year was ‘‘easily within reason.’’
    The only slam possibilities now belong to Immelman, a 28-year-old with a polished swing, who finally realized his potential in the wicked wind of Augusta and a final round that yielded only four rounds under par.
    But he built a two-shot lead with three rounds in the 60s, and held it together during a few nervy moments.
    Immelman made a 10-foot par save from the bunker at No. 9 to keep a two-shot cushion, but he continued to look shaky.
    His missed the 11th green well to the right, his chip didn’t quite reach the green and he was left with a 20-foot putt that was slick and dangerous.
    Ahead of him, Woods was gaining momentum.
    Woods holed a 70-foot birdie putt on the 11th, made an acrobatic escape from the trees on the 13th and spun a wedge down the slope on the par-5 13th that left him 5 feet away for birdie.
    Immelman holed his par putt. Woods missed, just as he has done the last two years on the back nine of a major he once dominated. Brandt Snedeker and Steve Flesch, the last two players with any hope, folded quickly.
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