The Loop

Russell: Immelman's Recovery Complete

April 11, 2008

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Under normal circumstances, Trevor Immelman had to like his position on the Masters leader board after completing his second round Friday afternoon. Considering where he was four months ago, he had to love it.

The 28-year-old South African shot his second consecutive 68 to take the early 36-hole lead at eight-under 136 with about half the field, including Tiger Woods, still on the course. The performance was all the more remarkable considering the health issues Immelman battled during the off-season.

Last December, after winning the Nedbank Challenge in his home country in a final-round duel with good friend and Orlando neighbor Justin Rose, Immelman began experiencing pain in his ribcage and had problems breathing. Doctors operated on him December 18 and removed a golf-ball sized tumor from his diaphragm.

"It definitely gives you perspective," said Immelman. "You go from winning a tournament to lying in bed waiting for results on a tumor. It definitely made me realize that golf wasn't my whole life."

Doctors diagnosed it as a calcified fibrosis tumor. Tests revealed that it was benign. Still, Immelman faced a challenging recovery.

"It took a couple of weeks before I could walk again," said Immelman. "I got a seven-inch incision across the right side of my back. But once I kind of worked my way through the morphine and [other medications] they had me on, and I started finding my feet again, it seemed to come back fairly quickly. It was about six weeks before I could hit a few chips and putts and another week before I could hit some balls and get out on the course."

-- Geoff Russell*