Immelman holds firm at Augusta
( dpa ) - They say the "fun doesn't start until the back nine" at the Masters. As the leaders in the 72nd Masters headed toward the turn, it seemed that Trevor Immelman was still having the most fun.
On a bright, blustery afternoon at Augusta, the 28-year-old South African was 1-under par through seven holes and enjoying a four-shot lead at 11-under par for the tournament.
Playing in the final pairing with Immelman, Brandt Snedeker was on the retreat, mixing four bogeys with an eagle and dropping to 7- under. After a birdie at number 8, lefthander Steve Flesch moved past Snedeker into second place at 8-under for the tournament.
Four-time Masters winner Tiger Woods was still lurking at 5-under through nine holes.
But with windy conditions affecting club selection and ball flight, Woods was hard pressed to make a move. He was at par for the round, trading a birdie for a bogey. Stewart Cink also was at 5- under, six shots behind Immelman.
For his part, Immelman vowed Sunday to play hard.
"That's all I can ask of myself, is to play as hard as I can," he said before the round started.
He got off to a difficult start, making bogey on his first hole. But that did not necessarily represent a bad omen. Seven players have bogeyed the first hole on Sunday and gone on to win the tournament, including 2007 winner Zach Johnson.
Immelman's slip briefly opened room for Snedeker, who made eagle at number 2 to grab a share of the lead at 10-under. But Snedeker dropped back with bogeys at numbers 3, 6 and 7.
Meanwhile, Immelman made a short birdie putt at number 4 and had a golden opportunity to increase his fun at number 7, as Snedeker made his fourth bogey of the round. But Immelman missed a 4-foot putt for birdie and settled for par.
As the leaders neared the back nine, it seemed evident that the tournament could swing dramatically at the turn. With wind gusts in the 20-mph range, the holes playing hardest at Augusta National are the first few on the back.
The top-ranked hole was number 10, a 495-yard par-4. The average score midway through the afternoon was 4.58, with only one birdie scored. The second ranked hole was the 11th, the 505-yard par-4, producing an average score of 4.52 and yielding no birdies.The third-most difficult hole was number 12, a 155-yard par-3 that was playing at 3.33.