When overnight leader Trevor Immelman tees off halfway through the hour at 12:30 p.m. ET, he’ll do having lost his lead. He’ll also do trying to build toward his first top-10 in nearly three years -- Immelman’s last top-10 was a tie for 10th at the 2008 TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola.
Still, as well as Immelman played Thursday, this season has been a struggle at times as he continues to work his way back from wrist surgery in 2008.
”I've just been working on those old feels and trying to get some consistency back,” said Immelman, whose best finish this year was a tie for 12th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard. “I've seen some signs of good play and some good shots at the right time. I'm just trying to stay patient with it.”
Immelman’s needed that patience of late with four consecutive missed cuts in his last six starts.
The other thing working against Immelman? A first-round leader has hung on for the victory just five times this season (most recently being Rory McIlroy at the U.S. Open).
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. – Trevor Immelman doesn’t tee off until 12:30 p.m. ET but there’s already been a change at the top of the leaderboard.
Brendon de Jonge, who went to school at nearby Virginia Tech, has just birdied the fourth and fifth holes to move to 7 under. The big man from Zimbabwe made a a 10-footer at No. 4 and a 4-footer at the next to take sole possession of the lead.
The former Hokies standout started on the back nine and recovered from an early bogey with consecutive birdies at Nos. 16 and 17 to turn 1 under for the day. He finished third in last year’s Greenbrier Classic.
Meanwhile, Gary Woodland has moved into a tie with Immelman at 6 under. The big-hitting Woodland bogeyed No. 10, which was his first hole, but two-putted the par-5 17th for birdie and added another birdie at the first hole.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
WHITE SUPLHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- The road back for Trevor Immelman has been a long one.
About 18 months after he won the 2008 Masters, the talented South African had surgery to repair the remnants of a debilitating case of tendinitis in his left wrist. Immelman couldn't even putt for five months and it was another 30 days before he was able to start hitting balls.
Immelman eventually returned to the PGA TOUR in February, 2010 but he is still looking for his first top-10 finish. In fact, his last one came at the 2008 TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola -- 48 starts ago.
Judging by the way he played Thursday in the first round of The Greenbrier Classic, though, Immelman's fortunes might be ready to change. He made seven birdies and just one bogey in shooting a 64 that earned him the lead.
"Any time you shoot a number like that it's exciting," Immelman said. "That's why you put all the hard work in."
And for Immelman, that work has been significant and the 2011 season is the first where he has really been completely healed. He has had to repair his game and resurrect his confidence in the wake of the extended recovery.
"Number one is the pain and discomfort," Immelman said. " So
that's the roughest part, because no matter what profession you're
in, whether it be indoors or outdoors, pain is not great.
"And then from an athlete's standpoint, because of the pain, number one, before the surgery I was compensating. All you do at that point is get into bad habits and start playing worse. ...
"So it's just frustration because I know that I got better golf in me. I've proved it to myself. So when you're out there shooting mediocre scores and struggling to make cuts and stuff like that, mentally it's not ideal."
Thursday's round had to be a confidence boost. While he missed five fairways, he still hit 17 of 18 greens. And Immelman had eight one-putt greens among the 28 strokes he took with the flat stick.
Immelman, who missed the cut a year ago, is a big fan of the restoration of The Old White TPC. He thinks the character of the C.B. Macdonald/Seth Raynor design has been maintained while the course has been made more challenging.
"I hit a lot more drivers now than what I did last year, and that's nice," Immelman said. "A lot more medium iron into the par-4s; whereas last year the fairways were really firm and it felt like every hole was a wedge or sand wedge.
"Consequently you really felt the need to make a lot of birdies; whereas this year, I definitely don't see as many birdies out there. You got to hit some good straight drives. … So I think the course is playing fantastically right now."
Immelman, who birdied three of his first six holes on Thursday, feels similarly good about his game. He's made 11 of 16 cuts this year and stands 108th in the FedExCup. Those "old feels" are returning with more regularity and he's more confortable with every round.
"I hope I'm close," Immelman said. "You never know with this
game. It's been a frustrating couple years not being able to
swing the way I want to swing and practice the way I want to
"I've definitely seen signs of improvement. Albeit slow progress, there's been progress. So I just keep trying to remind myself that I'm 31 and I got a long way ahead of me. Just trying to stay patient and keep things going."
We’re well into the afternoon wave at The Old White TPC, and no one has been able to catch Trevor Immelman, who leads after a 6-under 64.
Brendon de Jonge has a chance to at 4 under through 12 holes, but he’s been stuck on that number for about an hour.
Meanwhile, Kenny Perry, Gary Woodland, Ryuji Imada and Kyle Stanley are all sitting another stroke back at 3 under.
Speaking of Woodland and Stanley, they, along with J.B. Holmes and Steven Bowditch, are among the four players in the field this week with the best driving distance average.
Coincidence that three of those four are near the top of the leaderboard? Probably not, especially since 200 yards was added to the course for this year’s tournament. And the only one of that group who didn’t play well Thursday was Holmes, who shot 76.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- Prior to Thursday, Billy Mayfair had played in 21 PGA TOUR events this year. He'd only broken 70 in the first round on seven occasions, though, and the veteran was having a hard time playing catch-up.
The first round of The Greenbrier Classic was a different story, though. Mayfair put together a 65, which was his best round of the season, to pull within a shot of the early lead held by Trevor Immelman.
Mayfair started on the back nine of the Old White TPC and set the tone for the day early when he shot 32. He made birdies in bunches -- three straight starting at No. 12 and consecutively at Nos. 18 and 1 before making his only bogey on the third hole. A 4-footer at the ninth hole sent Mayfair home with the kind of momentum that has been lacking this year.
"'I’ve just not been getting off to real good starts," Mayfair explained. "I just kind of shoot self in the foot and I always seem to be always seem to be trying to catch up. So getting off to a good start today really helped."
Mayfair played steady all day, hitting 11 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens. The putter was cooperative, too, with 27 on the firm new greens. With calm breezes and ample sunshine, Mayfair said he'd be surprised if someone didn't go lower in the afternoon.
"I drove the ball very well today in the fairway and I hit a lot of good shots short of the hole," Mayfair said. "They kind of bounced and with the firmness of the greens rolled up close to the pin. I had a few real good bounces today.
"(The restoration) makes you think a little. The greens are a lot firmer but lot quicker in certain spots. It's like re-learning the golf course over again. But in the end, you just have to put ball in right spots and when got an uphill putt you've got to take advantage."
Mayfair said he played The Old White TPC on Tuesday when it was "super-duper long" after being softened by rain and hit a 2-iron into the second hole, a 440-yard par 4. On Thursday, he hit a 7-iron, and said the course was playing a "lot fairer and a lot better."
Mayfair, a five-time winner on the PGA TOUR, lost his exempt status and had to go back to q-school last year. He ended up winning and was hoping for better in 2011 but only has one top-10.
"It's been a disappointing year," Mayfair said. "... But as we all say, one week out here can change a lot of things. I'm still in the in FedExCup race (ranked 113th)."
Three years removed from his Masters victory, and the wrist surgery that followed, Trevor Immelman finally finds himself atop a leaderboard again. The South African made seven birdies and one bogey Thursday en route to shooting a 6-under 64 at The Old White TPC, where he has the early lead.
Immelman missed just one green in regulation and took 28 putts in the opening round.'
Meanwhile, three others -- Billy Mayfair, Derek Lamely and Webb Simpson -- all shot 65 to sit just a stroke back.
Simpson has played extremely well of late with five straight finishes in the top 16 dating back to the Memorial tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance. During that stretch, he also did most of his damage early with his last three opening rounds all in the 60s -- a 66 at the British Open, a 69 at AT&T National and a 66 at the Travelers Championship.
In last year’s final round of The Greenbrier Classic, Stuart Appleby shot a 59 to win. The day before that, J.B. Holmes carded a 60. But with several changes made to the course , we might be hard-pressed to see numbers like that this year.
So far, the lead is just 4 under with Billy Mayfair (through 14 holes) and Trevor Immelman (through 13 holes) sharing the top spot.
Now, The Old White TPC shouldn’t play as difficult as Shaughnessy G&CC did for last week’s RBC Canadian Open, but of the 78 players currently on the course, 17 of them are under par at the moment. In other words, figure scoring to be somewhere between what we saw last week, where only a couple handfuls of players broke par, and what we saw last year, where the winning score was 22 under.
Scores | Shot Tracker | Tee times | Phil's working vacation
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
The cut line sits at even par right now and while it’s still early in the second round, it looks like Ben Crane will have a short week at Colonial.
Crane, who came into the week as one of the PGA TOUR’s most accurate players off the tee and into the green, ranking eighth in driving accuracy and 19th in greens in regulation, has been anything but that this week.
Through 33 holes, Crane has hit just 13 fairways and 18 greens and is 8 over for the week.
In terms of performance, his opening 75 was his worst score in relation to par since last year’s TOUR Championships presented by Coca-Cola where he shot 76 in the third round. It’s also just his seventh round over par in 31 rounds on TOUR this year.
Other notables currently on the wrong side of the cut: John Daly, Kenny Perry, Jerry Kelly and Trevor Immelman.
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM Managing Editor
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- After 10 holes on Friday, Trevor Immelman was on the front page of the Masters leaderboard and looking to continue his rise toward the leaders.
Of course, that's when he started Amen Corner.
Immelman found the water with his second shot at the par-4 11th, his 6 iron riding too much wind, and had to get up-and-down just for bogey. Then he struck what he thought was a good tee shot at the par-3 12th, only to see his ball roll back into the trap. Another bogey.
Then, he failed to birdie the par-5 13th, and thus left Amen Corner having harmed his chances at a second Green Jacket.
"I kind of went through a little funny patch there," said Immelman, the 2008 Masters champ.
He was certainly not laughing two holes later when he three-putted the par-5 15th, the easiest hole on the course. Unlike the day before when he was 3 under on the par 5s (thanks to an eagle and a birdie), Immelman was 1 over on the par 5s on Friday, failing to take advantage of Augusta’s scoring holes.
Even so, his second-round 73 (after an opening 69) leaves him at 2 under for the tournament. That at least should give him a fighting chance on the weekend.
Still, it could've -- maybe should've -- been better.
"I actually felt like I played better than yesterday," Immelman said, "and shot four shots worse. Definitely if I would have made a few more putts there, that might have got myself a little closer to the lead."
Click here for Immelman’s scorecard
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM Site Producer
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Here are some notable numbers to set up Friday’s second round at Augusta National.
· The last 21 year old to win the Masters was Tiger Woods in 1997. Will Rory McIlroy be the next? He opened with the only bogey-free round of the day, a 65 to share the first-round lead. The last player with at least seven holes of birdie or better and no holes played over par here was … Tiger Woods in the third round in 1997.
· In the past 25 Masters tournaments, only one player -- Trevor Immelman in 2008 -- held or shared the lead at the end of the first round and went on to win the Green Jacket. Only one other official stroke-play tournament that has been played every year during that period has had no more than one first-round leader finish in first place: The Farmers Insurance Open. George Burns won that tournament in 1987 after owning the lead through the first round.
· Ricky Barnes is playing in his just third Masters -- in 2003 he played as an amateur and last season obviously as a professional. Through eight previous rounds here, Barnes had finished his round in the top 10 six times. Thursday, he added a seventh, meaning that 78 percent of the time he has finished a round in the top 10. That’s a higher percentage than any player since 2003.
· Tiger Woods did not make his first bogey of the first round until the 10th hole. That marked just the second time at Augusta National that Woods has played his first nine holes without a bogey. In 2008, Woods did not make his first bogey until the 13th hole. Thursday, Woods finished with a 1-under 71. Woods has been under par in his first round at the Masters six previous times. His worst finish in any of those years was a tie for eighth in 1998.