'Fun' Augusta outing pays off for trio
A two day 'fun' golfing trip by Trevor Immelman, Justin Rose and Ian Poulter paid dividends in Thursday's first round of the U.S. Masters.
South African Immelman and Britons Rose and Poulter, who made a spur of the moment visit to Augusta National two weeks ago, are high up the leaderboard after their opening rounds in the year's first major.
Immelman and Rose were tied for the lead after four-under-par 68s, while Poulter shot a 70 and made the biggest noise with a hole-in-one at the par-three 16th.
"We live a couple yards away from each other down in Lake Nona (Orlando) and opportunity presented itself to come up here and we came up here for two days and had an absolute ball," Immelman told reporters.
"Any time you play this course you learn something new, and so that time was well spent and it was a great experience."
Rose thought the early exposure to Augusta National took the pressure off during the tournament's practice days.
"I didn't do more than nine holes a day," Rose said. "Tuesday I didn't actually play the course, just went around with some wedges and stuff. So I felt like I wasn't chasing my tail trying to learn everything this week.
"I was itching to go from Monday afternoon. I was just trying to hold myself back and not get too excited too early."
Immelman said they combined work and pleasure on their trip.
"We just had some fun and we did a lot of chipping and putting around the greens and shared each other's knowledge, different shots and different putts that we had seen before.
"Kind of like three kids going to your favorite golf course playing golf. It was an awesome couple of days."
Immelman found it striking to see their names on the leaderboard.
"I did think about it," he said. "I was on the third green when Ian holed that shot (hole-in-one) and it was just a massive roar. My caddie and I had a good chuckle when we saw that it was him who holed it," he said.
"Justin (has) been playing some fantastic golf for a long time now...so I expect him to contend in majors.
"It's a great coincidence. Hopefully we keep it going."
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April 10, 2008