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February 2 2012

10:59 PM

Extra week may pay dividends

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- He hadn't planned on playing in the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

But when Trevor Immelman missed the cut at the Humana Challenge and tied for 33rd at Torrey Pines last week, he decided to make it three in a row. The work he had done on the range during the offseason just wasn't producing the kind of scores he had anticipated in competition.

"I was extremely rusty playing wise, so I was very disappointed with my start there," he explained. "I played a little better last week, and I just figured I'd be better off playing here in a tournament than standing on the range at home."

Immelman will now be away from his family for five straight weeks for the first time. But judging from his first-round 67, Immelman's decision looks to have been a good one.

The South African played his first 12 holes in 6 under on Thursday, including a 4-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole. He couldn't quite coax it home -- "I wasn't very tidy," Immelman said -- but the 2008 Masters champ still just two shots off the lead.

"My game has felt pretty decent for a while now," Immelman said. "It's just a matter of me getting some momentum and hitting the right shots at the right time. I definitely felt like it was going to be better for me to stay out here and just get more and more comfortable every week that goes by.

"It's scoring, it's the mental aspect of just being out here, being comfortable, sticking to our routines. When I go home I tend to get a little too caught up in the nuts and bolts of it rather than getting the ball in the hole."

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