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Trevor Immelman says there on Saturday there was a three-shot difference in the greens from morning to afternoon conditions. (Photo: Getty Images)
Trevor Immelman says there on Saturday there was a three-shot difference in the greens from morning to afternoon conditions. (Photo: Getty Images)

Soft early morning greens agree with Immelman

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Trevor Immelman found out Saturday that playing Southern Hills in the morning can be to one's advantage, especially when the intense heat forces tournament officials to water the greens right up until the first tee time.

By Helen Ross, Chief of Correspondents

TULSA, Okla. -- Trevor Immelman says he found Tiger Woods' record-tying 63 Friday at the 89th PGA Championship nothing short of "inspiring."

However, Immelman had a much more practical explanation for the 66 he shot in the third round at Southern Hills on Saturday that moved him up
42 spots at 1-over 211.

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"I think if you play at 8 in the morning (the course is gettable) because you know what they were doing?" Immelman said, posing a rhetorical question. "What I noticed is that they were pretty much syringing the greens right up until the first group got there."

Immelman was in the second group, paired with Charles Howell III. He made six birdies Saturday, one more than in the first two rounds combined, and just two bogeys, compared with 10 over the first 36 holes.

"I was able to fire at the flags," said Immelman, who hit 12 of 14 fairways and all but three greens in regulation. "Obviously, it's extremely hot out there. They're protecting against losing the greens. Lucky for me the greens are soft so I could shoot at it and roll a few putts in."

With 101-degree temperatures and plenty of sun to bake Southern Hills on Saturday afternoon, the 27-year-old South African didn't expect the generous conditions to last.

"It's seriously hot, and the last couple of days there hasn't been much of a breeze to kind of ease the tension here," Immelman said. "But I would say it's about a three-shot difference the way the greens are going to firm up. Obviously, they're nice and smooth when you first start in the morning.

"So hopefully, they'll let me play again that time tomorrow."

The round of 66 tied Immelman's low of the season, which came in the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard back in March and was his last top-10 finish.

That was one of three top-10s in his first seven starts, including a pair of solo thirds at the Mercedes-Benz Championships and World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship. Immelman has only finished higher than 35th once in his last 10 events, though.

"I had a nice start to the year and tailed off the last couple of months, played some awful golf," admitted Immelman, who also was hit by a mysterious stomach ailment that caused the 5-foot-9, 170-pounder to lose 20 pounds he could not afford to drop.

The talented young South African regained the lost weight, though, and he feels better about his game of late. It's a good time to gain confidence, too, with the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedexCup on the horizon.

Not to mention, Immelman hopes to play for countryman Gary Player, the International Team captain, in his second straight Presidents Cup. The matches will be played Sept. 27-30 at Royal Montreal.

"The last couple of weeks, I felt my game come around," said Immelman, who is currently ninth in the International Team standings. "When you have confidence in your game, you can go out there and play the golf course the way it's supposed to be played and shoot some good scores.

"So I've been feeling that come around, and I am looking forward to the Playoffs and hopefully, The Presidents Cup."

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