wary driver

SOUTHPORT, England- Trevor Immelman believes solid driving will be the key to his bid to follow up his US Masters triumph in April with victory in the 137th Open Championship this week.

SOUTHPORT, England- Trevor Immelman believes solid driving will be the key to his bid to follow up his US Masters triumph in April with victory in the 137th Open Championship this week.

The South African has been in Southport since Sunday, getting to know a course he is unfamiliar with and which is in unusually lush condition for a British links.

"It is a lot greener than I expected and it's very difficult," he said. "There is a lot of tough rough, not the wispy stuff you usually see.

"The main thing is that you had better drive the ball straight here because if you don't, there is no way you can contend."

Despite his Masters win, the 28-year-old maintains the Open is still his favourite.

"I love the history and the tradition," he said.

And he insists he is in the right frame of mind to mount a challenge here after finally coming to terms with the changes to his life that followed his entry to the exclusive club of major winners.

"Athletes prepare all their lives for what is going to happen on the course, but nobody really prepares you for what happens if you pull something like that off," he said when asked to reflect on the effect of his Masters triumph. "It caught me out of the blue and I didn't handle it very well."

Sensibly, Immelman sought advice from the likes of Nick Faldo and compatriots Ernie Els and Retief Goosen about how to cope with the extra demands on his time generated by his Masters win.

Els, meanwhile, is hoping for an improvement after he failed to take numerous chances at the Scottish Open at the weekend. - Sapa-AFP

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