Trevor Immelman isn’t here to try and fool you. He knows what you’re thinking.
As captain of the International team at this week’s Presidents Cup, he knows you might be more aware of who isn’t on his team than who is. He knows his squad are heavy underdogs and, as a broadcaster, he knows the media has that story to tell. But neither team has scored a point yet. It’s a race to 15 and it’s currently tied.
Immelman was named to the enviable position of team captain back in April, 2020, only to find himself with the rather unenviable task of disseminating who would remain eligible to represent the International shield as the most chaotic year in professional golf’s history played out in 2022.
He knew more than we all did. He knew Cam Smith was leaving for LIV before it was reported. He knew Abe Ancer wouldn’t be playing in yellow and black this fall. He dealt with the late blow that was Joaquin Niemann’s defection, but he wasn’t blind-sided by it. The International team had a roster in mind it hoped for, as well as backup rosters it would field barring any changes. What you see now, this week, lining up in Charlotte, are 12 players who he says “wanted to be there.”
“When we get into the battle and into the fight,” Immelman told the Drop Zone this week, “those are the 12 that I want there.”
What Immelman also wants is for you to let the Presidents Cup be the Presidents Cup. He’s been more online than most captains in recent memory, unafraid to mix it up with pundits and podcasters, reminding them that the establishment is listening. I personally received a little reminder a month ago. Yes, the Ryder Cup is a huge deal, but the Ryder Cup is next year. His event is this year.
Naturally, he gets bothered by the discussions that emanate throughout social media that the Cup should be altered in a major way or disbanded altogether.
“One of the things that kinda gets under my skin at times is, a lot of people just want this tournament to go away,” Immelman told the Drop Zone. “They speak poorly of it. They try and make our team out to be a joke.
“We love this competition. We want to play this competition. As young kids growing up outside the U.S. and Europe, this is our one shot to go up against the best, go up against the Americans in a team format. We love it and we have a ton of passion.”
That much was clear throughout our conversation. There is no shortage of passion. And perhaps that’s a byproduct of the tricky summer Immelman has waded through. He’s had to idle silently as some of the best players at his disposal decided to leave. He’s had to work through plans B, C and D. He thinks Taylor Pendrith is going to surprise you.
Pendrith has spent the summer quietly beating a bunch of Americans after recovering from a nagging back injury. He hits it a mile and seems to be a perfect course fit at Quail Hollow, where long and straight hitters have been served well. Don’t be surprised if he’s paired up with Corey Conners, another all-world hitter who just happens to be Pendrith’s college teammate. Yes, there’s a bit of a method to the madness. Conners and Pendrith, if paired together, could easily take down any of Team USA’s best duos. The Presidents Cup gives them the chance to let match play be match play. It’s more random than you think.