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Trevor Immelman and coach David Leadbetter hope to stick around all week. (Photo: Getty Images)
Trevor Immelman and coach David Leadbetter hope to stick around all week. (Photo: Getty Images)

Dad-to-be Immelman plays a waiting game at Hoylake

Trevor Immelman will play the Open this week with one ear cocked toward his cell phone. His wife Carminita is scheduled to have their first child next week, and if the delivery arrives ahead of schedule, he'll have a big decision to make.

HOYLAKE, England (PA) -- South African Trevor Immelman has a mobile phone at the ready, but is not expecting to have to leave the Open Championship in a hurry this week. Immelman's wife Carminita is due to give birth to their first child, a boy, at the end of next week.

"We went to the doctor right before I came over here and he didn't see any chance that she was going to have the kid this week," said the 26-year-old, who held off Tiger Woods to capture his first U.S. Tour title two weeks ago. "He felt like she was pretty much good to go through to the due date. We've got a few people with their cell phones on and they'll let me know if something happens.

"My wife really wanted me to come over to this tournament," he added. "She knows it's my favorite. And so I've been very lucky."

If she does show signs of going into labor, however, Immelman knows he will have a decision to make.

"It depends what time of day. I think there are a couple of flights back over to Orlando sort of between 10 and 12 in the morning," he said. "If I could get back in time then maybe I would try, but we really are just taking it day by day."

A runner-up in the British Amateur at Sandwich before his switch to the paid ranks -- he lost to Scot Craig Watson -- Immelman will be playing his fifth Open Championship and had a best finish of 15th at St. Andrews last year.

Still a member of the European Tour, he has been one of the stars of the U.S. circuit this season with two second places prior to his victory at the Western Open in Illinois. That has enabled him to put the record straight on how he comes to be playing in the States.

"People think I got a two-year exemption from being picked [by fellow South African Gary Player] on the Presidents Cup," he said. "But they don't seem to realize that I made enough money [more than $1.2 million] to have card for the 2006 season regardless.

"At first I didn't pay much attention to it, and then when it started getting brought up in the press it was a little bit frustrating," he added. "I didn't want other players and fans and other people in the media to think that I had gotten a free pass, so I tried to go about getting in touch with the right people in the media to just maybe try and set the record straight. I think that has been achieved and that's a relief for me."

Three-time Open champion Player has been Immelman's inspiration since he first met him at the age of five.

"He came to do an exhibition at my home club, Somerset West, and my dad took a photo of Mr. Player with me," he said. "And I'm standing there with just the biggest grin on my face and no front teeth."

Presidents Cup Captain Player also put him on his shoulders then and has stayed in regular touch -- most recently after Immelman's win. Their conversations have also covered what it takes to win an Open.

"He has told me to practice a lot of long putts," he said. "You get so many 30-, 40-, 50-, 60-footers."

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