How Trevor Immelman’s impact is still felt at the Shriners Children’s Open
It may not be the black and gold shield of the International Presidents Cup team, but the International flags up and down this week’s leaderboard at the Shriners Children’s Open can be at least partially traced back to captain Trevor Immelman.
The Internationals put up a fight at the Presidents Cup two weeks ago, losing 17.5 to 12.5 in what was expected to be a blowout by the stacked U.S. team. Now, the good feelings have rolled all the way into the PGA Tour fall season.
“I think Trevor did a really good job with us, encouraging us how good we are, how good we play golf,” Shriners leader Mito Pereira said after his Friday 63. “So, I think we carry that over here. Right now we’re just playing really good.”
Heading into the weekend, half of the International team was inside the top 17 on the leaderboard in Vegas, led by Pereira in first, Si Woo Kim and breakout star Tom Kim in third, and Cam Davis, who was tied for sixth. Defending champion Sungjae Im and Christiaan Bezuidenhout were tied for 17th.
Si Woo Kim, who played with Tom Kim for the first two rounds, said he didn’t think it was a coincidence so many of the International team players were near the top of the leaderboard just two weeks after the defeat.
“I think that really helps to start the season, and that’s why we’re playing pretty good,” said Si Woo, who defeated U.S. heavyweight Justin Thomas in Sunday singles in Charlotte. “I think that was the real help.”
Tom Kim agreed the strong start for the team members wasn’t by chance, particularly now that they’ve entered the lower-stakes environment of strokeplay.
“With the amount of pressure there is in the Presidents Cup, and normally you play for yourself in individual tournaments, but you play for the whole team,” the world No. 21, who had a memorable 2-3-0 Presidents Cup debut, said. “For me, it’s actually like— it was so comfortable just knowing, if I miss a shot, it’s on me. I’m not hurting anyone else.”
After being decimated by defections of presumptive stars to LIV Golf, the odds were massively stacked against the International team coming into the Presidents Cup.
Yet, Immelman never believed his team was out of the fight, despite starting the matches in an 8-2 hole after two sessions.
Immelman criticized those who bemoaned the Presidents Cup as a failing event and worked hard throughout the week to embrace and solidify an International team brand and identity, which is only a few years old.
That fight seems to have resonated with the team’s members, who are all making their first PGA Tour starts this week in Las Vegas since the matches.
“Obviously, Presidents Cup, we fell short,” Tom Kim said. “It’s just showing how much we’re playing well. I think it’s really good to see, and it’s showing everyone that international golf is growing.
“Hopefully by Sunday, we’ll all have a shot.”