Don Emmert, Getty Images
Masters champ Trevor Immelman of South Africa puts on the green jacket after winning the Masters by three strokes over Tiger Woods Sunday evening.

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Trevor Immelman was winding down his first encounter with reporters as the freshly jacketed Masters champion when someone finally popped the question.

What about the Grand Slam?

"Probably not, no," Immelman said, breaking into a sheepish smile as laughter filled the room.

Well, what did you expect? "Easily within reason?"

Of course, Immelman now stands as the only man who can sweep all four of golf's major championships this year. But if there is one point that was reinforced by the latest gathering at Bobby Jones' cathedral, it was the axiom that nothing comes easy in majors.

Even for the world's No. 1 golfer.

"I gave it my best. That's all I can do," Tiger Woods said as his bold Grand Slam quest fell flat on the first leg. "I hit the ball well enough to give myself a chance. It just didn't happen this week."

Consider Woods the latest example of why golf is the world's most confounding game.

Woods teed himself up back in January when he said on his Web site that the Grand Slam — winning the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship in the same year — was "easily within reason."

A bold statement, to be sure. But Woods also gave naysayers little ammunition as he kept winning tournaments, running his streak to seven in a row worldwide.

Even a hiccup four weeks ago at Doral did little to quell the buzz. If anything, many observers said, the fifth-place finish would just strengthen his resolve for the Masters.

In Augusta, Grand Slam talk kept snowballing.

"I learned my lesson there with the press," Woods cracked.

However, he disputed any notion that his decree had created any added pressure.

"It's one of those things where when you're out there playing, you could care less," he said. "You're out there trying to win. I just didn't make the putts I needed."

Woods produced only one round of less than 30 putts at Augusta, taking 28 in his opening round. He had 120 putts for the week, which tied him for 29th in the field.

Immelman needed just 112 putts.

Despite a few bumps down the homestretch, Immelman triumphed by being the week's steadiest player. The South African ranked among the week's top four in all four key statistical categories — driving accuracy (first), driving distance (fourth), greens in regulation (second) and putts (fourth).

It was the kind of performance long ago envisioned by none other than Gary Player — a three-time Masters champion who has known Immelman for two decades.

"His swing is absolutely the closest I've seen to Ben Hogan," Player told reporters Friday. "And I've always thought Ben Hogan was the best striker of the ball from tee to green that I saw."

Business travel kept Player, who shot 83-78 in a record 51st Masters, from seeing the final round in person.

Immelman's green jacket came four months after surgery to remove a noncancerous tumor on his diaphragm.

"I felt like I had to just basically start from zero again," he said. "Here I am after missing the cut last week, now Masters champion. It's the craziest thing I've ever heard of."

Well, maybe except for that Grand Slam decree.

"We've got three more majors," Woods deadpanned.