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Immelman claims Dimension Data title

A clearly exhausted Trevor Immelman looked relieved rather than jubilant when he holed his par putt on the final hole at Sun City's Gary Player Country Club on Sunday to clinch a nervous win in the prestigious Dimension Data Pro-am and chalk up his second victory in the space of three weekends.

The putt, which rounded-off a long, 32-hole day and what he described as "a really tough final nine-hole grind when I was never on top of my game" gave him a 1-under 71 for a 17-under 271 that earned him a 1-stroke victory over fellow South African Andrew McLardy and American Bruce Vaughan, a white-haired Sunshine Tour veteran.

Two weeks ago the 23-year-old Immelman, currently the European No 2, won the South African Open to chalk up his first European Tour victory.

Last week he failed by an inch or two to win the Dunhill Championship on the first hole of a six-man play-off ultimately won on the next hole by England's Mark Foster.

And now the favourite golfing son of Somerset West near Cape Town has beaten world class stars of the calibre of Nick Price and Darren Clarke, both former winners of the Di-Data tournament.

Price, the winner in 1999, finished fourth this time on 14-under after closing with an impressive 8-under 66, while Clarke, the winner in 2001 and first-round leader this year, stumbled on the final day with a 4-over 76 to slip down the leaderboard into joint 9th place.

Although he was only some 22,000 euros behind Padraig Harrinton at the start of this tournament, Sunday's result won't helped hoist Immelman ahead of the Irish star on the European Tour's Volvo Order of Merit.

That because it's not on the European Tour schedule.

It will, however, cement his position at the top of the 2002-03 Sunshine Tour's order of merit - with earnings of R1 814 27(191,597.06 euros) he is in an unassailable position going into next weekend's final tournament.

He might also find get him to within spitting distance of a place in the world's top 50 after starting the season in the low 100s.

Right now, though, his only thought is get some rest after three stressful of weeks of fighting it out at the top of the leaderboard.

Earlier in the day Immelman, who is physically in great shape and works hard to keep himself that way, had had to play 14 holes to complete his suspended third round.

He finished with a sizzling 9-under 65 to take a three shot lead - but said it was not the physical exertion of playing nearly two full rounds with only an hour's rest in between that had exhausted him.

It was the three weekends of solid pressure that comes with being in continuous contention that did it, he admitted at the prize-giving afterwards."

“I could handle playing 32 holes today, but being in contention for each of the last three weeks took a lot out of me. Coming down the stretch I was shaking and didn’t feel like myself at all.

“With al the rain delays and early starts to the rounds, I’ve been up at 04:15 the last two days. So I’m buggered.”

Earlier in the day Immelman, who is physically in great shape and works hard to keep himself that way, had had to play 14 holes to complete his suspended third round.

He finished with a sizzling 9-under 65 to take a three shot lead - but said it was not the physical exertion of playing nearly two full rounds with only an hour's rest in between that had exhausted him.

It was the three weekends of solid pressure that comes with being in continuous contention that did it, he admitted at the prize-giving afterwards."

“I could handle playing 32 holes today, but being in contention for each of the last three weeks took a lot out of me. Coming down the stretch I was shaking and didn’t feel like myself at all.

“With al the rain delays and early starts to the rounds, I’ve been up at 04:15 the last two days. So I’m buggered.”

For a while on Sunday it looked as if Immelman would easily hang onto his 3-stroke lead and coast home to victory, but that was before McLardy's closing charge that put the young gun on the final green needing only to hole a five footer to tie Immelman on 17-under.

As it was he missed and it was then left to Vaughan, Immelman's playing partner to do it.

The gallant Vaughan, limping notably at this stage, hit some trees with his final drive, but then took the tiger line and went for the green from the rough where his second shot from the trees had landed.

He hit it some 12 feet from the pin with a good chance of a birdie.

Immelman, with a one shot lead, was also on the green for three after conservatively laying up - but some 20 feet further away from the pin than Vaughan.

His first putt sneaked by the hole and rolled five or six feet past, leaving him with some work still to do.

Vaughan now had the chance of forcing a play-off with a birdie - but missed and moments later had to shake the hand of the winner when Immelman made no mistake with his putt for par.

“I just didn’t want to blow my lead coming down the last,” Immelman said afterwards, explaining his conservatism in the final stretch.

“I thought that if somebody eagled the last, then so be it. But I didn’t want to blow it. I’m pretty thrilled to have hung in as I did.”

Immelman confirmed that his performances over the past three weeks had convinced him that his game is now at a level where he can compete with the best in the world.

“I’ve always believed I can play with the best. It was just a matter of me figuring out in my own head when that would be.

"I was so young when I turned professional that I couldn’t put the pieces together. But yeah, my game’s certainly at a new level.”

This coming weekend Immelman will play in the Sunshine Tour's season-closing Tour Championship at plush Leopard Creek Golf Club.

271 Trevor Immelman 67 68 65 71

272 Andrew McLardy 69 70 68 65, Bruce Vaughan (USA) 68 66 69 69

274 Nick Price (Zim) 69 70 69 66

279 Hennie Otto 70 72 71 66, Craig Lile 72 70 69 68, Titch Moore 72 68 71 68, Scott Dunlap (USA) 68 69 73 69

280 Don Gammon 71 72 69 68, Ian Hutchings 70 72 71 67, Darren Clarke (NIrl) 63 72 69 76

282 Tjaart van der Walt 72 72 67 71, Jean Hugo 72 73 67 70

283 Mark Mouland (Wal) 69 76 69 69, Louis Oosthuizen 74 67 72 70, Michael Kirk 71 69 73 70

284 Marc Cayeux (Zim) 72 73 70 69, Andrew Butterfield (Eng) 72 69 73 70

285 Dean van Staden 74 73 71 67, André Cruse 69 77 69 70

286 Malcolm MacKenzie (Eng) 70 73 73 70, Justin Rose (Eng) 69 73 76 68, Deane Pappas 70 75 72 69, Bradford Vaughan 72 69 71 74, Andre Bossert (Swi) 68 72 72 74

287 Wallie Coetsee 76 69 70 72, Vaughn Groenewald 78 69 71 69, Darren Fichardt 74 70 71 72, Mark Murless 69 71 74 73

288 Michael Green 73 74 70 71, Chris Davison 68 75 75 70, Callie Swart 70 73 73 72, John Bele 72 70 75 71, Ulrich van den Berg 72 73 74 69, Patrick O'Brien 69 70 73 76

289 Richard Sterne 70 73 67 79, Omar Sandys 70 71 74 74, Simon Hurd (Eng) 68 76 72 73, Henk Alberts 72 70 72 75

290 Sean Farrell (Zim) 72 71 74 73, Bobby Lincoln 73 71 72 74

291 Lindani Ndwandwe 69 74 74 74, Grant Muller 72 74 76 69, Dean Lambert 72 71 76 72, Mike Lamb (Zim) 75 70 72 74, Mark Foster (Eng) 66 74 78 73

292 Alan McLean (Sco) 70 73 73 76, Desvonde Botes 71 73 76 72

293 Martin du Toit 75 69 72 77, Ryan Dreyer 72 73 76 72

294 Matthew King (Eng) 75 72 75 72, Trevor Fisher 75 72 71 76, Knud Storgaard (Den) 68 79 73 74, Charl Schwartzel 70 76 74 74, Alan Michell 73 69 76 76, Steve Basson 72 70 76 76

295 David Ryan 68 78 72 77, Roger Wessels 70 73 78 74, Leonard Loxton 71 72 73 79, Keith Horne 72 73 73 77, Uli Weinhandl (Aut) 63 77 77 78, Tim Rice (Irl) 71 69 78 77

296 Roux Burger 71 76 73 76, Ashley Roestoff 76 71 76 73, Thabang Simon 72 72 80 72

297 Doug McGuigan (Sco) 73 74 79 71

298 Schalk van der Merwe (Nam) 72 74 73 79, Sammy Daniels 71 75 77 75, Sean Ludgater 72 72 73 81

299 Brett Liddle 75 71 78 75

303 Nico Le Grange 71 70 84 78

304 Jaco Olver 75 72 81 76


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