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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Immelman edges Woods at Western Open

By The Associated Press

LEMONT, Ill.-Trevor Immelman stared at the hole and savored the moment. Then, he seized the opportunity.

Immelman birdied the 18th hole and held off Tiger Woods and Matthew Goggin to win the Western Open on Sunday for his first PGA Tour victory.

Immelman needed to par the 18th to win. Instead, he knocked in a 32-foot putt for a birdie, putting him at 13-under 271 for the tournament-two strokes ahead of Woods (68) and Goggin (69).

“It’s an incredible feeling,” Immelman said. “Obviously, it hasn’t quite sunk in yet.”

Vijay Singh, the leader through three rounds, was 2 over for the day to fall out of contention. Singh and defending champion Jim Furyk finished at 9 under, along with Tim Clark, Stephen Leaney, Stewart Cink and Carl Pettersson.

Phil Mickelson shot 71 and finished 3 over in his first tournament since the U.S. Open, where a double-bogey on the final hole cost him the championship.

Called the Western Open since 1899, the second-oldest tournament in the U.S. will get a new name-the BMW Championship-and become part of the PGA Tour’s season-ending series next year. It will be played at Cog Hill in 2007, then rotate out of the Chicago area on alternate years.

Immelman birdied the 15th and 16th holes to go to 13 under. He let out a grin after hitting a 10-foot putt on 16.

The South African, who has four European tour victories, bogeyed 17 but made up for it on the 18th and finished at 4-under-par 67 for the day.

Immelman was expected to follow in the footsteps of fellow South Africans Gary Player and Ernie Els when he turned pro seven years ago.

He won the 1996 Junior PGA Championship, the 1998 U.S. Public Links, and was second at the 1997 U.S. Junior Amateur. He also made the cut in the 1999 Masters, finishing 56th. He tied for fifth at Augusta in 2005, but missed four straight cuts at one point this year.

In May, he lost a playoff to Jim Furyk at the Wachovia Championship in Charlotte, N.C., and placed second at the Byron Nelson Championship the following week in Irving, Texas.

Some of the best golfers tried to catch him on Sunday, but Immelman didn’t flinch. The bogey on 17 was “quite unfortunate.” Woods had just finished his round when Immelman reached No. 18.

“At that moment, you’ve got to turn around and say to yourself, ‘OK, I made the choice to be a professional golfer and I wanted to put all this time in. So if I’m not going to enjoy this moment when I’ve got a chance to win a tournament, then maybe I need to take stock of my life and go back to school or something like that,'” Immelman said.

Woods bogeyed the first hole Sunday and shot 1 over through nine, but he got it going after the turn.

His tee shot on the par-3 12th landed within 2 feet of the hole, and Woods tapped it in for his second straight birdie. He was at 10 under and within a stroke of the lead after a birdie on the par-3 14th.

His second shot on the par-5 15th sailed wide right into the crowd, but Woods managed to save par. A chip shot from the rough rolled past the hole, and he made a 15-foot putt.

“Just a (bad) shot,” Woods said. I just hit a bad one at the wrong time, hit it straight right. I was lucky to even have it in play. That thing should have been gone.”

Woods sank a 23-foot putt for birdie on No. 16, putting him at 11 under. The crowd roared, and he pumped his right arm after the ball fell into the cup. But it wasn’t enough to catch Immelman.

Woods charged into contention with a good second round and a better third round after opening the tournament at 1 over. He shot 4 under on Friday and made a big jump with a 5 under Saturday.

This was Woods’ first tournament since the U.S. Open, when he missed the cut in a major for the first time in 10 years as a professional while still reeling from the death of his father in May.

He put in extra time on the range at Cog Hill, and it helped.

“You can’t shoot 1-over par in a regular Tour event and expect to win a golf tournament,” Woods said.

Singh missed a short putt for par and bogeyed the second hole. He sank a 35-footer for a birdie on the par-4 third, but he bogeyed the fourth and eighth holes and was 2 over through nine. He was at 11 under for the tournament after a birdie on 17-his third on the back nine-but double-bogeyed the 18th.

Mickelson made it clear throughout the week that his mind was on the British Open later this month. He spent a few days at home with his family after the U.S. Open, then practiced at Royal Liverpool.

He is scheduled to head back there on Tuesday. He usually plays the week before a major. Not this time.

Mickelson thinks he’ll get more out of practicing at Royal Liverpool than he would playing elsewhere. He tied for 60th at St. Andrews and won the PGA last year, captured the green jacket at the Masters in April and was in position to win his third straight major. Then, the double-bogey at Winged Foot in the Open.

“We’re halfway through this year, we’ve played two majors, and I want to focus on the last two as much as I can,” he said.

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