2003: Immelman breaks through at home

CAPE TOWN, South Africa

The South African Open was a thriller for home fans, with two South Africans battling for the victory in a one-hole playoff.

It was Trevor Immelman outlasting defending champion Tim Clark to earn his first victory on the PGA European Tour.

Immelman birdied the 18th hole at Erinvale Golf Club twice in a half-hour span Jan. 12, finally making it to the winner’s circle after three runner-up finishes.

“I’ve been dreaming of this moment for so long, and for it to happen in front of my home crowd – people who I’ve known forever – is difficult to be taken in,” Immelman said. “I don’t really have the words . . . It’s just incredible.”

Immelman, 23, was even more familiar with his surroundings than most South Africans. He is a former member at Erinvale, having been born in Somerset West just a couple of miles from the course. He employed that familiarity, not to mention some clutch golf, when he forced a playoff by sinking a 12-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole.

Immelman and Clark finished regulation at 14-under 274.

Clark, the 36-hole leader who won this event in Durban last year, had a chance to win in regulation, but just missed a 12-foot birdie at No. 18. The two returned to the 18th tee for the first playoff hole, and Immelman hit a 9-iron to a foot for a tap-in birdie. Clark again missed a birdie putt – this time from 10 feet – and Immelman had his first victory.

– Staff and wire reports

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