Commentary

Life after Masters has been a whirlwind tour for Immelman

Updated: April 23, 2008, 4:50 PM ET
By Jason Sobel | ESPN.com

They don't keep records of this sort of thing. You can't Google the answer, look it up in a media guide or research it in the old, dusty microfilm section of your local library. And so we're left to simply assume that Trevor Immelman is among the very few Masters champions who had never visited New York City prior to donning the green jacket in Butler Cabin.

A whirlwind tour around the Big Apple has become golf's version of the Super Bowl MVP's annual postgame twirl among the teacups at Disney World, but Immelman's recent excursion, during which he read a Top Ten list on "Late Show with David Letterman" and appeared on various other talk shows, took on greater meaning due to the novelty of the situation.

"Everything was a first time," he said during a teleconference from the Byron Nelson Championship on Wednesday. "It was fantastic."

Immelman on Letterman

One day after winning the Masters, Trevor Immelman apeared on "Late Show with David Letterman" to read a list titled, "Top Ten Ways Trevor Immelman's Life Has Changed Since Winning the Masters." Here is the complete list:

10. "I've been elevated from 'Unknown' to 'Obscure.'"

9. "Thanks to the prize money, I no longer have to buy generic root beer."

8. "Suddenly I don't look so foolish for trademarking 'Immelmania.'"

7. "I'm BFF's with Lauren and Heidi from 'The Hills.'"

6. "President Bush called to congratulate me on winning Wimbledon."

5. "When my caddie reccomends a club I can say, 'Excuse me, how many Masters have you won?'"

4. "Invited to Masters Winners Week on 'Jeopardy.'"

3. "I get a lifetime supply of them little pencils."

2. "Guess who's playing 36 holes with the Pope this weekend?"

1. "Get to put my arm around Tiger Woods and say, 'Maybe next year.'"

With those words, the 28-year-old from South Africa could very well have been describing his Masters victory itself. Prior to winning the year's first major by 3 strokes, Immelman owned only one career PGA Tour victory (and five others internationally) and had never finished better than fifth at a Grand Slam event in 19 previous appearances.

Co-leader after the opening 18 holes and outright leader at each of the next two checkpoints, Immelman will be remembered for the poise he displayed throughout the tournament, becoming the first winner since Seve Ballesteros in 1980 to own at least a share of first place after every round.

It was enough to make dodging taxi cabs and hot dog vendors in New York ultimately seem less daunting.

In fact, if the greencoats at Augusta National ever wanted to ditch the "a tradition unlike any other" motto, they could simply steal a page from Frank Sinatra's songbook about the city and brand it as their own. If you can make it here, you'll make it anywhere.

"Obviously, those first few days were really crazy," said Immelman, who will make his first post-Masters appearance this week. "But it's a good type of crazy, you know? And I was enjoying everything that was happening."

The best part of the Gotham experience?

"The thing that I personally enjoyed the most was going to Madison Square Garden to go watch the basketball game," he said. "That was fantastic. I'm a huge basketball fan, and to go there and watch the Celtics play against the Knicks was awesome for me, time for my wife and I just to sit back and enjoy the game."

Appropriately enough, the guys in green won the game, 99-93, though Immelman wasn't wearing his similarly hued attire for the occasion. "I wore it a lot on Sunday night after I won," Immelman said of the green jacket. "I didn't take it off until 4:00 the next morning. But I haven't worn it too much since, just for some pictures here and there with friends, but it's all been at home in a casual setting. I haven't taken it out anywhere, other than a couple of the shows I did in New York. I haven't taken it outside of the house. I see it a couple times a day and still have to pinch myself. It's just such an incredible feeling to know that I've won that tournament. That's something that can never be taken away from me."

Immelman now goes from a tournament replete with green jackets to one run by organizers known for wearing red pants. Such is life on the PGA Tour, where there is no rest for the weary -- even when the weary one has just captured a major championship.

Two years ago, when he was still searching for his first professional victory on U.S. soil, Immelman was runner-up at the Nelson, finishing 1 stroke behind winner Brett Wetterich. Despite his recent success, he said skipping this year's edition of the tournament was never part of the equation.

"This has always been one of my favorite events," he said. "The red pants and all the volunteers, they do just a great job here, give so much money to charity. Obviously, Byron Nelson was such a fantastic role model for all of us. I've always enjoyed coming here, so it wasn't really a thought that crossed my mind."

One byproduct of the Masters title that Immelman has already seen this week? Writer's cramp.

"The strangest thing is this: You can see all the Sharpie that's rubbed up onto my hand," Immelman said. "That wouldn't normally happen to me. That's purely because I've had to sign so much stuff today. So that's kind of weird."

More autographs than ever before. A first-time trip to New York City. A green jacket hanging in his closet at home. Trevor Immelman is still getting accustomed to life as a Masters champion, still pinching himself to make sure it's all real.

"It still hasn't quite sunk in yet," he said. "But it's an exciting time for me."

Jason Sobel covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at JS.espngolf@gmail.com.

Jason Sobel | email

Golf Editor, ESPN.com
Jason Sobel, who joined ESPN in 1997, earned four Sports Emmy awards as a member of ESPN's Studio Production department. He became ESPN.com's golf editor in July 2004.