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Trevor Immelman to make PGA Tour bid

South Africa's Trevor Immelman, boosted by top-30 finishes in his last two starts in the United States, plans to divide his time between the European and PGA Tours for the rest of this year.

The 23-year-old from Somerset-West has been a European Tour regular for the last two seasons but has always wanted to make his mark on the U.S. Tour, the most elite circuit in the professional game.

"It has been a goal of mine to come over here and be able to play on the U.S. tour," he told reporters, after tying for 17th in the Houston Open on Sunday.

"I always wanted to, ever since I came over and played a lot of junior and amateur golf [in the U.S.] growing up.

"But I am not putting too much pressure on myself. I am an exempt player in Europe and I really enjoy playing there, but I am just going to take it as it comes and play as much as I can in the U.S."

Immelman, who shared 27th place at The Heritage in South Carolina one week earlier, impressed golf fans in Houston on Saturday by rocketing into fourth spot with a sparkling third-round 65.

Although he faded on the back nine on Sunday to finish with a 75, he believes his game is not too far from where he wants it to be.

"Things have been moving a little slowly, but I put a little more work into my game and could feel it coming," he said.

"Last week, I saw signs of it coming back, and I just felt comfortable coming here this week.

"I started seeing the ball go where I was wanting it to go, and then you can start getting more and more aggressive on certain shots.

"That's a nice feeling, and one I haven't had in the last six or seven weeks."

Immelman, the 1997 South African amateur champion, has long been regarded as heir apparent to former U.S. Open winners Ernie Els and Retief Goosen as his country's No. 1 player.

He turned professional in 1999 and sealed two wins in the paid ranks the following year, at the European Challenge Tour's Kenya Open and the Southern African Tour's Players' Championship.

Earlier this year, he made his breakthrough victory on the European Tour, in the South African Open at Erinvale Golf Club outside Cape Town, and promptly followed that with another title in the Dimension Data Pro-Am at Sun City two weeks later.

"In December of last year, I put a lot of work into my game," he said. "My coach came over, and we spent the whole month really working on my game. I got off to a great start in January, winning two tournaments and finished second twice.

"But I think those two months took a lot out of me. I was really shooting to try and make the top 50 in the world to get into the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship but, once I had done that, I didn't have much left."

Immelman, who lost three amateur finals during 1997 -- the British amateur at Royal St George's, the New Zealand amateur and the U.S. amateur -- plans to play in the next three European Tour events in England before returning to the U.S. next month.

"I'll come back for the Memorial [which starts on May 29] and then the U.S. Open [at Olympia Fields from June 12 to 15]," said the diminutive South African, who is currently ninth on the European money list.

"Then I'll head back to Europe and play some [tournaments] around the British Open and then come back here [to the U.S.] for the World Golf [WGC] events and stuff like that, so I am going to be kind of back and forth all year long."

Immelman is certainly in for a busy time as he crisscrosses the Atlantic. But, with his sights firmly set on cracking the PGA Tour, that is the way it has to be.


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