Masters champ Trevor Immelman is on the mend

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ORLANDO, FLA. (AP) - Trevor Immelman has no interest in looking at the world ranking these days.

It’s not that he doesn’t have time to scroll through the pages until he finds his name at No. 269. Immelman has lost the better part of two years with a left wrist injury, and these are the consequences. He accepts that.

He just has trouble recognizing that guy so far down the list.

Of all the major champions from the last five seasons, all but Immelman remain in the top 60 in the world.

“Really, in the last 18 months, that hasn’t been me playing,” he said. “I don’t mean that in an arrogant sense. I know what I’m capable of when I’m feeling good and feeling strong. I’m going to give myself a full season, and then see how that pans out.”

For the first time in two years, Immelman wakes up without feeling a pounding sensation in his left wrist. He has been working diligently on the practice range at Lake Nona for a new season. It feels like a new beginning, complete with an equipment deal soon to be announced.

“I’m excited,” he said. “Everything is right on track. I’m looking forward to a full season again. It’s been a few years.”

The last time Immelman felt this good about his health was in 2008, and it featured a masterful performance.

The 30-year-old South African was so dominant at Augusta National that he built a six-shot lead on the back nine and went on to win the Masters by three shots over Tiger Woods. One of the lasting images was Immelman striking a muscleman pose on the 18th green.

Such strength has not come easily since then.

Immelman already has dealt with a few health scares even before slipping on the green jacket. He lost 25 pounds from a stomach parasite in 2007. Later that year, doctors had to slice open his back to remove a tumor from inside his rib cage, and only after the operation did they learn it was benign.

The most recent scar doesn’t look like that big of a deal. Immelman rolled up a winter coat on a cold day in Orlando, then brushed back some hair to show a tiny scar from his wrist surgery last December.

So small, yet so much trouble.

He first noticed a twinge in his left wrist toward the end of 2008, and it got so bad the following year he had to withdraw from the U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship. He thought the rest would help, but the few times he tried to play, he didn’t finish higher than 50th if he made the cut.

“The final straw was in Las Vegas last year,” he said. “I played a Tuesday practice round, and I was in so much pain that I went back to the hotel and said to (wife) Carminita, ‘I don’t think I can muscle through this.”

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