Immelman picks 5 rookies for Presidents Cup

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The International team has won just once in 13 Presidents Cup matches, and it figures to again be a sizable underdog when play begins at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, later this month.

International team captain Trevor Immelman announced his six captain’s choices Tuesday: South Korea’s K.H. Lee and Si Woo Kim, Canada’s Taylor Pendrith, Australia’s Cameron Davis, South Africa’s Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Colombia’s Sebastian Munoz.

Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, South Korea’s Sungjae Im and Tom Kim, Canada’s Corey Conners, Australia’s Adam Scott and Chile’s Mito Pereira were automatic qualifiers.

The International team includes eight first-timers and just four players (Scott, Matsuyama, Im and Si Woo Kim) who have previous experience in the Presidents Cup.

“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,” Immelman 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.”

Immelman’s job was made more difficult because two of the International team’s automatic qualifiers, Australia’s Cameron Smith and Chile’s Joaquin Niemann, joined the LIV Golf circuit and weren’t eligible to play. Presidents Cup veterans Louis Oosthuizen and Abraham Ancer had earlier defected to the new league.

“I don’t really think I have to play the underdog role up,” Immelman said. “I think everybody knows it. Everybody sees it clear as day. Our team has had a lot of adversity thrown at us over the last year or so. But adversity makes you stronger.”

U.S. team captain Davis Love III will announce his six captain’s choices Wednesday for the tournament, which is slated for Sept. 22-25. The six automatic qualifiers were Patrick Cantlay, Sam Burns, Justin Thomas, Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele and Tony Finau.

Jordan Spieth, Collin Morikawa, Max Homa, Billy Horschel and rookie Cameron Young are expected to be added to the team by Love as well. Will Zalatoris was in line for a spot but won’t play because of a back injury. Veteran Kevin Kisner, one of the best match-play competitors in the world, is a strong contender for the final spot.

The U.S. team has won eight straight and nine of the past 10 Presidents Cups (the teams tied in 2003). The International team’s lone victory in 13 matches came in Melbourne, Australia, in 1998. Under captain Tiger Woods, the U.S. team won 16-14 in the last Presidents Cup in Australia in 2019.

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