ELISE AMENDOLA / AP Enlarge
AUGUSTA, Ga. - Trevor Immelman wasn't going to back down, not now. He had been the leader since the first day of the 72nd Masters, and he wasn't going to crumble into tiny little pieces and get scattered like pine needles about the Augusta National Golf Club.
Not when his tee shot at the par-3 16th hole landed in the water. Not when his approach at No. 17 found a greenside bunker. Not when his tee shot at the final hole stopped in a divot.
On this day, not even a gusting wind could cause a ruffle in Immelman, who was unflappable all week.
"When he got in trouble, he got right out of it," Brandt Snedeker said.
When it was all over yesterday, Immelman became the first South African since his idol, Gary Player, to win the Masters, shooting 75 on a blustery day at Augusta National to keep Tiger Woods at arm's length and win his first major championship.
Immelman, 28, finished at 8-under 280, three shots ahead of Woods, despite tying Arnold Palmer for the highest final-round score by a champion. What's more, he became the first wire-to-wire winner since Raymond Floyd in 1976.
"It was a tough day out there," Immelman said. "When I woke up and peeked outside and saw the trees moving around, I knew it was going to be tough out there for us."
Immelman withstood wind gusts of 15-25 mph that sent the scoring average to 74.666, highest in four days, and produced just three sub-par rounds.
The victims were scattered everywhere:
•Snedeker, who began the round two shots behind Immelman, shot 77 after briefly tying for the lead with an eagle at No. 2 and finished at 284, tied with Stewart Cink.
•Steve Flesch, who had made just one bogey in 46 holes, shot 78 and finished at 286, tied with Phil Mickelson and British Open champ Padraig Harrington.
•Paul Casey, who was two shots from the lead after three holes, shot 79 and finished eight shots back.
That allowed Woods, who birdied the final hole to shoot 72, to finish in second place, the second year in a row the world's No. 1 player has been runner-up without seriously contending.
"That's just the way it is," Woods said. "You have some bad weeks, you have some good weeks. This was not one of my best."
Woods, who began the day six shots from the lead, never made enough of a move to put a scare into Immelman, or at least produce a roar to make him start to tremble in his socks. The lone exception was when Woods made a 75-foot birdie at No. 11, the first leg of Amen Corner, generating a thunderous noise that Immelman most certainly could hear standing on the 11th tee, though he said he didn't.
Woods had another opportunity after that, and it was a good one: He spun a wedge into six feet at No. 13 after having to lay up from the pine straw. But Woods squandered the chance, tugging a putt that would have sent reverberations tumbling through the valley.
When he bogeyed the next hole with a three-putt from 45 feet, Woods could only stagger to the clubhouse, his chance at a fifth green jacket dashed by another first-time winner.
"I didn't make any putts all week," Woods said. "I hit the ball well enough to contend, definitely well enough to contend with Trevor, but I didn't make any putts."
Flesch was hanging around the leaderboard, mainly because he had made only two bogeys in a span of 47 holes - a remarkable string given the difficulty of Augusta National in gusting conditions. But, at the par-3 12th, where the wind dances and swirls through the pines, his 8-iron tee shot caught a gust and ended up in Rae's Creek, leading to double bogey.
The gaffe dropped him four shots behind Immelman, and he never recovered.
"When I was over the ball, there was not much wind," Flesch said. "I hit it solid, but halfway through the flight, it stood straight up in the wind. I could tell halfway there it wasn't going to make it."
Snedeker wasted little time making a move, making a 30-foot eagle at the second hole to jump into a tie for the lead with Immelman. But Snedeker bogeyed the next hole, then closed the front nine with three more.
When he three-putted the par-4 11th for bogey, he dropped five shots behind Immelman.
But he wasn't finished.
When Snedeker jammed a breaking 40-footer into the hole for birdie at No. 12, and Immelman bogeyed from the pine straw behind the green, the lead was down to three. But, as he did in the third round, Snedeker hit his second shot from 195 yards into Rae's Creek at No. 13 and made bogey.
The Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Gerry Dulac is a reporter for the Post-Gazette.
Augusta, Ga.; Par: 72
Trevor Immelman, $1.35 million 68-68-69-75 280
Tiger Woods, $810,000 72-71-68-72 283
Stewart Cink, $435,000 72-69-71-72 284
Brandt Snedeker, $435,000 69-68-70-77 284
Phil Mickelson, $273,750 71-68-75-72 286
Padraig Harrington, $273,750 74-71-69-72 286
Steve Flesch, $273,750 72-67-69-78 286
Miguel Angel Jimenez, $217,500 77-70-72-68 287
Robert Karlsson, $217,500 70-73-71-73 287
Andres Romero, $217,500 72-72-70-73 287
Nick Watney, $172,500 75-70-72-71 288
Lee Westwood, $172,500 69-73-73-73 288
Paul Casey, $172,500 71-69-69-79 288
Stuart Appleby, $135,000 76-70-72-71 289
Vijay Singh, $135,000 72-71-72-74 289
Sean O Hair, $135,000 72-71-71-75 289
Henrik Stenson, $112,500 74-72-72-72 290
Mike Weir, $112,500 73-68-75-74 290
Retief Goosen, $112,500 71-71-72-76 290
Bubba Watson, $84,300 74-71-73-73 291
Justin Leonard, $84,300 72-74-72-73 291
Brian Bateman, $84,300 69-76-72-74 291
Zach Johnson, $84,300 70-76-68-77 291
Boo Weekley, $84,300 72-74-68-77 291
Richard Sterne, $54,844 73-72-73-74 292
Angel Cabrera, $54,844 73-72-73-74 292
Stephen Ames, $54,844 70-70-77-75 292
Jeev Milkha Singh, $54,844 71-74-72-75 292
J.B. Holmes, $54,844 73-70-73-76 292
Adam Scott, $54,844 75-71-70-76 292
Arron Oberholser, $54,844 71-70-74-77 292
Ian Poulter, $54,844 70-69-75-78 292
Heath Slocum, $42,375 71-76-77-69 293
Nick Dougherty, $42,375 74-69-74-76 293
Jim Furyk, $42,375 70-73-73-77 293
Todd Hamilton, $36,875 74-73-75-73 295
Justin Rose, $36,875 68-78-73-76 295
Johnson Wagner, $36,875 72-74-74-75 295
Geoff Ogilvy, $33,000 75-71-76-74 296
Niclas Fasth, $33,000 75-70-76-75 296
K.J. Choi, $30,750 72-75-78-73 298
David Toms, $28,500 73-74-72-80 299
Robert Allenby, $28,500 72-74-72-81 299
Ian Woosnam, $26,250 75-71-76-78 300
Sandy Lyle, $24,750 72-75-78-77 302
Par out 454343454-36
Trevor Immelman 554333464-37
Tiger Woods 454442454-36
Stewart Cink 344353455-36
Brandt Snedeker 535344555-39
Par in 443545344-36-72 288
Trevor Immelman 444445544-38-67 280
Tiger Woods 533555343-36-72 283
Stewart Cink 553535244-36-72 284
Brandt Snedeker 452654444-38-77 284
2008 Trevor Immelman; 2007 Zach Johnson; 2006 Phil Mickelson; 2005 x-Tiger Woods; 2004 Phil Mickelson; 2003 x-Mike Weir; 2002 Tiger Woods; 2001 Tiger Woods; 2000 Vijay Singh.
1999 Jose Maria Olazabal; 1998 Mark O Meara; 1997 Tiger Woods; 1996 Nick Faldo; 1995 Ben Crenshaw; 1994 Jose Maria Olazabal; 1993 Bernhard Langer; 1992 Fred Couples; 1991 Ian Woosnam; 1990 x-Nick Faldo.
1989 x-Nick Faldo; 1988 Sandy Lyle; 1987 x-Larry Mize; 1986 Jack Nicklaus; 1985 Bernhard Langer; 1984 Ben Crenshaw; 1983 Seve Ballesteros; 1982 x-Craig Stadler; 1981 Tom Watson; 1980 Seve Ballesteros.
1979 x-Fuzzy Zoeller; 1978 Gary Player; 1977 Tom Watson; 1976 Raymond Floyd; 1975 Jack Nicklaus; 1974 Gary Player; 1973 Tommy Aaron; 1972 Jack Nicklaus; 1971 Charles Coody; 1970 x-Billy Casper.
1969 George Archer; 1968 Bob Goalby; 1967 Gay Brewer Jr.; 1966 x-Jack Nicklaus; 1965 Jack Nicklaus; 1964 Arnold Palmer; 1963 Jack Nicklaus; 1962 x-Arnold Palmer; 1961 Gary Player; 1960 Arnold Palmer.
1959 Art Wall Jr.; 1958 Arnold Palmer; 1957 Doug Ford; 1956 Jack Burke Jr.; 1955 Cary Middlecoff; 1954 x-Sam Snead; 1953 Ben Hogan; 1952 Sam Snead; 1951 Ben Hogan; 1950 Jimmy Demaret.
1949 Sam Snead; 1948 Claude Harmon; 1947 Jimmy Demaret; 1946 Herman Keiser; 1945 43 - No tournament, WWII; 1942 x-Byron Nelson; 1941 Craig Wood; 1940 Jimmy Demaret.
1939 Ralph Guldahl; 1938 Henry Picard; 1937 Byron Nelson; 1936 Horton Smith; 1935 x-Gene Sarazen; 1934 Horton Smith33.47909 -81.97531