Trevor Immelman: LIV Defections ‘Pretty Frustrating’ But Moving Forward
International Presidents Cup captain Trevor Immelman said he and his assistant captains were not blindsided by any of the players who left the PGA Tour for LIV Golf.
Those players – some of them leading International team members, like Cameron Smith and Joaquin Niemann – were immediately suspended by the Tour and ruled ineligible for the biennial competition after making their debuts with LIV last week. Smith had initially said that he hoped to still be able to compete at Quail Hollow.
“Let me make one thing extremely clear,” Immelman said on a conference call with reporters Tuesday following an announcement of his six captain’s picks. “Everybody that’s been on our squad since 2019 at Royal Melbourne all the way through today has been in constant and open communication. Everybody knew exactly what the situation was, knew that if they made certain decisions it was highly likely that they would not be able to compete in the Presidents Cup. Everybody knew that going into it. It was part of their decision-making process.
“I knew in some cases a while before everybody else exactly what those decisions were, and I do thank and respect those players that would keep me in the loop so I could make the best decisions possible to put our team in the strongest position possible going into Quail Hollow.”
In addition to Smith and Niemann, the Internationals also won’t have Louis Oosthuizen, Abe Ancer or Carlos Ortiz, all of whom were likely to make the team. Anirban Lahiri and Marc Leishman also would have been considered wildcard picks before they jumped to LIV last week.
“It still was pretty frustrating at times,” Immelman said. “Glad it’s all over right now. A couple weeks ago was definitely tough. But the thing that excites me the most is I know now, particularly after our trip, when all these guys came together as one, I know now that we have 12 players that are hungry, and we have 12 players that wanted to be there, so we go from here.”
Immelman on Tuesday announced his six captain’s picks, five of whom are rookies: Taylor Pendrith, K.H. Lee, Cam Davis, Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Sebastian Munoz. Former Players champion Si Woo Kim, who made his lone cup team in 2017, also received a wildcard selection. They join a team that already includes Hideki Matsuyama, Sungjae Im, Tom Kim, Adam Scott, Mito Pereira and Corey Conners.
With his depleted roster, Immelman didn’t shy away from the fact that the Internationals, who have won just once in 13 cups, will be significant underdogs at the Sept. 22-25 matches.
“We understand exactly the mountain that we have in front of us – possibly the best American team ever assembled if you look at them on paper with their accomplishments and what their world rankings are,” he said. “But hey, when you’re a little kid growing up outside of the U.S. and you dream of playing on the PGA Tour, you dream of playing in major championships at the highest level. This is everything you’ve ever dreamed of is having an opportunity to play against the best on their home soil, and that’s what we’re going to have here in a couple weeks.
“I’m extremely proud of my team. They’ve all worked their butts off to get to this point. They thoroughly deserve their position in the team. We look forward to the opportunity.”