AUGUSTA, Georgia, April 13 (Reuters) - Trevor Immelman survived a double-bogey at the 16th hole to become the first South African to win the US Masters in 30 years with a three-shot victory on Sunday.
Maintaining his composure in swirling winds at Augusta National, the dapper 28-year-old got up and down from a greenside bunker to par 17 before parring the last to seal his first major title.
Two ahead of the chasing pack overnight, Immelman followed in the footsteps of his childhood hero Gary Player to secure the prized green jacket with a three-over-par 75.
He also became the fifth wire-to-wire champion at the Masters and the first since American Raymond Floyd in 1976 with an eight-under total of 280.
Woods placed second
World number one Tiger Woods, four-times champion at Augusta and the overwhelming favourite at the start of the week, had to settle for second place after closing with a 72.
Six strokes off the pace going into the final round, Woods struggled to make headway in his bid for a 14th major title.
He offset three birdies with three bogeys to finish at five-under 283, dashing his bid for a unique calendar grand slam of the four professional majors.
Augusta National champions
- 2008 Trevor Immelman (South Africa)
- 2007 Zach Johnson
- 2006 Phil Mickelson
- 2005 Tiger Woods
- 2003 Mike Weir (Canada)
- 2002 Woods
- 2001 Woods
- 2000 Vijay Singh (Fiji)
- 1999 Jose Maria Olazabal (Spain)
- 1998 Mark O'Meara
- 1997 Woods 1996 Nick Faldo (Britain)
- 1995 Ben Crenshaw
- 1994 Olazabal
- 1993 Bernhard Langer (Germany)
- 1992 Fred Couples
- 1991 Ian Woosnam (Britain) -- REUTERS
Immelman, who four months ago had emergency surgery to remove a non-cancerous tumour on his diaphragm, was briefly caught by American playing partner Brandt Snedeker after two holes.
Both players bogeyed the par-four first after failing to reach the green in two before the mop-haired Snedeker rolled in a 40-footer to eagle the par-five second.
Immelman, aiming to become the first South African to win the Masters since Player in 1978, parred the hole after failing to get up and down from the right greenside bunker for birdie.
Although Immelman birdied the par-four fifth after hitting a superb approach to four feet, he squandered an opportunity to forge five ahead when he narrowly missed a three-foot birdie putt at the seventh.
The South African dropped another shot at the par-five eighth where he was bunkered off the tee before three-putting from long range, but did well to save par at the ninth with an up-and-down from the left greenside bunker.
Out in one-over-par 37, he offset a bogey at the treacherous 12th with his birdie at the 13th to stay well ahead of his challengers.
Although he pulled his tee shot into the pond guarding the left of the 16th green on his way to a double-bogey six, he held his nerve over the closing stretch to win the biggest title of his career. -- REUTERS
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