Trevor Immelman didn’t appear to be on his game when he arrived at Augusta National Golf Club in April 2008. He’d just missed the cut at a tournament in Houston and in eight starts that year on the PGA Tour, had recorded only one top 20.
No matter. He won the Masters Tournament by three strokes over Tiger Woods for his second tour victory. His first came at the Cialis Western Open in 2006.
Immelman of South Africa, who has had many injuries, is no longer an active player. He has replaced Nick Faldo to become the lead analyst for CBS which will cover the Masters that begins on Thursday.
Immelman, 43, reflected recently on his win in 2008 and role in the booth.
The following conversation has been edited and condensed.
When you think of that week, what comes to mind?
In a lot of ways, it still feels like it was just yesterday. That obviously was an incredible week for my family and I, life changing really.
Where did the magic suddenly come from?
I won a huge tournament in South Africa at the end of 2007, and all of a sudden I started having some breathing issues. I had a tumor on my diaphragm. I had to have surgery. Thankfully, the tumor was benign. It took three months before I could start swinging again. I made an extremely slow start in ’08, but at the Houston Open, I only missed the cut by one shot and something clicked for me there. I went to Augusta feeling a little better about things.
What did it feel like on Sunday to walk down the fairway at 18?
It was the first time all week that I came out of this bubble or the zone or whatever you want to call it, and I started to recognize friends and family members and hear all the cheers. I’d watched all my heroes make that walk and win that tournament, and now for that to actually be happening to me was so mega-, mega-surreal.
Who did you hear from afterwards that might have surprised you?
Yogi Berra, how about that? I had played with him at the Pro-Am at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, so him and I had kept in touch. He gave me a ring, which was awesome.
Was it tough to give up being a player?
When I played and competed in a bunch of Masters and on tours all over the world, I gave it absolutely everything I could. To the point where I broke my body to pieces. So I can put my head on the pillow at night and be comfortable that I got as much out of my talent that I could. It also isn’t painful because I really enjoy this new chapter.
So it was really your body breaking down, not your game?
They go hand in hand. I blew out my wrist a couple of years after I won the Masters. I had to get a few surgeries on it and was just never quite the same.
As of the second week of March, who are the favorites for Augusta?
It’s quite open. It’s not like when I used to play, when it was 90 percent chance Tiger Woods was going to win and the rest of the field had a 10 percent chance. We’ve got 10 guys I believe are coming in there as favorites.
Is there an international player we haven’t heard of who is a star on the horizon?
His name is SH Kim. He’s 24. I got to spend some time with him this year. He is a stud. Has enough power to work the ball both ways, solid short game, and I would be extremely surprised if he doesn’t make the  Presidents Cup team [the international competition held every two years].
What is the toughest part of being lead analyst?
Being able to take a side and have an opinion when the moment is right. There will be times when something polarizing happens and, as lead analyst, you need to be able to comment on what you think is right. You can’t always ride the fence.