For Immelman, 'greatest way to start the year'

Updated: January 12, 2003, 5:30 PM ET
Associated Press

CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- Trevor Immelman made a 6-inch birdie putt on the first playoff hole to beat Tim Clark and win the South African Open on Sunday.

Trevor Immelman
Trevor Immelman earned his first career title with his best shot of the week.

Immelman, who opened the final round three strokes off the lead, made a 12-foot birdie putt on the final hole of regulation to complete a round of 5-under 67 and move into tie with Clark at 14-under 274 at Erinvale Golf Club.

Clark missed a 10-foot birdie putt on the final hole of regulation and settled for 3-under 69.

On the playoff hole, Immelman hit his second shot from 169 yards to within 6 inches.

"I saw the people in the stands jump up and clap and I just kept hoping that it would be a tap in," Immelman said.

Clark missed his birdie try, and the 23-year-old South African tapped in for his first victory, worth $200,000 and a two-year exemption on the European Tour.

"I don't know how to describe how happy I am with this win. So many times over the years, I have walked down the 18th fairway and allowed myself, for a moment, the dream of winning this tournament," Immelman said.

"This is the greatest way to start the year."

South Africans claimed the top seven positions. Jean Hugo, Bradford Vaughan, Bobby Lincoln, Tjaart van der Walt and Charl Schwartzel finishing tied at 11-under, three strokes off the lead.

England's Justin Rose closed with a 1-under 71 and finished in a tie for eighth place.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press