Internationals captain Trevor Immelman says losing several top players to LIV Golf has deepened the resolve of the players who will compete against the United States in the Presidents Cup.
Having worked with more than two dozen players over the past 18 months, Immelman hopes the missing talent can help create a closer bond between the players who will play first place starting Thursday in the tag team matchup at Quail. Hollow.
“We beefed up our team from a resolution standpoint,” Immelman said. “The 12 that are here, they are the ones that stayed loyal, stayed with our team, wanted to play in the Presidents Cup and those are the guys that I want to fight.”
The Americans lead the all-time rivalry 11-1-1, having won eight in a row. His only loss came in Melbourne in 1998.
The Internationals were seen as a serious threat to win on American soil for the first time before losing several top players to the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series.
British Open winner Cameron Smith, world number three from Australia, Chile’s Joaquin Niemann, South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen, Mexico’s Abraham Ancer and Australia’s Marc Leishman were the top names to jump to LIV, bringing indefinite bans from the PGA and the exclusion from consideration of the Presidents Cup. .
“There is tension and conflict in the game right now,” US captain Davis Love said.
Immelman still has five players in the top 30 in recent Masters champions Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama, South Korean stars Kim Joo-hyung and Im Sung-jae and Canadian Corey Conners.
But the diminished global team is seen as a severe underdog against a powerful USA lineup with 12 of the world’s top 25 ranked players, 11 of them in the top 18.
And that’s with eighth-ranked Will Zalatoris injured and several American stars joining LIV, including Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed and Bryson DeChambeau.
“We’re very happy with the 12 we have,” Love said. “There is no talk in our team room that someone is missing.”
But golf fans will never know if a full international lineup could have challenged the Americans.
“We can’t run from it,” Immelman said. “It’s been a really tough time. It was sad and disappointing to have to go through that. It’s been hard to watch.”
“All of those players knew what the repercussions would be if they went on the other tour. They all knew where they stood.”
Immelman said he got the bad news directly from the players and stayed informed as they made their decision on LIV.
“Am I disappointed that they’re not all here? Absolutely,” Immelman said. “Now we can face a strong American team. We look forward to it.”
Immelman said nothing came of the conversation to make his team an organization that would allow LIV players, saying, “When you look under the hood … it’s not really a viable option.”
– Camaraderie among the best –
Immelman’s plight drew sympathy from American star Justin Thomas, who won his second PGA championship in May.
“It’s just an unfortunate situation for him. It’s not fair,” Thomas said. “It’s hard. We didn’t want it. He didn’t want it. It sucks.”
“But he’s built a very strong team, camaraderie-wise, one of the best they’ve ever had.”
Unifying talent from across the planet has been the achievement, Immelman said.
“You’re mixing seven or eight cultures and trying to get everyone to be at their sweet spot,” he said. “It’s been complicated and something we’ve worked really hard on for the last three or four years.
“We’re slowly but surely starting to get there, so now it’s much more about how those two players can match up and their games will then match up on the golf course.”