Sports Outside the Beltway

Trevor Immelman wins the Masters and the perils of Golf record books

As Peter F mentioned last night, Trevor Immelman won the Masters yesterday. Trevor played the best golf and was a deserving winner. Nobody lost this year’s Masters, though some players blew sky high yesterday. Immelman had the lead after every round and withstood the pressure.

In my book Immelman is not a surprising champion. He was ranked 29th in the world. A good and solid player. Zach Johnson’s win last year was more of a surprise, but Zach isn’t a fluke champion either. Craig Dolch at the Palm Beach Post calls both Johnson and Immelman ‘fine players’ and I agree.

As I noted earlier, Trevor led the Masters from the beginning. Carlos Monarrez of Gannett News Services writes-

Immelman also became the first wire-to-wire winner at the Masters since Raymond Floyd in 1976.

That’s incorrect. Last Saturday night I knew someone would fall into this trap, and what the cause of it would be.

Jason Sobel of ESPN wrote a daily Masters blog. Around 7 p.m. Saturday night, Jason wrote-

E-mail from my friend Anthony in Australia:

When was the last wire-to-wire victory at the Masters? Is it too early to start talking about Immelman’s chances?

It hasn’t happened since 1976, when Raymond Floyd pulled it off. The other three to do it were Jack Nicklaus (’72), Arnold Palmer (’60) and Craig Wood (’41).

Floyd, Nicklaus, Palmer and Wood did win the Masters wire to wire. At no time sharing the lead at the end of a round. Immelman did share the lead after round one, which makes him slightly different.

I wrote Jason on Saturday night shortly after the above blog post. Jason then blogged.

E-mail from Bill in Lantana, Fla.:

If you count Immelman as a possible wire-to-wire leader, then Seve Ballesteros in 1980 must be included, too. Both players were tied at the end of 18 holes — Immelman with Justin Rose, Seve with David Graham and Jeff Mitchell. Ballesteros had the solo lead for Rounds 2, 3, and 4, of course.

The official Masters media guide doesn’t list Seve as a wire-to-wire winner, but I’m giving it to him. Immelman could be No. 6.

Actually Arnold Palmer in 1964 also won the Masters after having the leads after each round(But tied after round one) but I didn’t mention that to Jason or check any further if there were other people like Immelman or Palmer(64).

Golf record books made by the PGA Tour have been prone to mistakes for over 20 years at least. From their ommission of JC Snead’s playoff record in 1987(and JC went into a playoff that year resulting in CBS saying he had never been in a playoff) to dozens of typos and missing data in the playoff section of a 94 guide book I once purchased, to how George Archer’s record for fewest putts in a 72 hole tournament changed over the years from 94 to 95. I’ve been constantly hard on golf writers getting their facts straight, at the same time there is plenty of disinformation out there provided by either the tours or tournaments themselves. Members of the media use PGA Tour guide books at their own peril. I use for much of my golf fact checking.

Note- In the case of wire to wire winners, the Masters guide book was being insufficently clear as how they counted these champions.

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