Trevor Immelman. Pic: Presidents Cup/ PGA Tour
By Trevor Immelman,
Captain of the International Team, Presidents Cup 2022
When I heard the news that the Presidents Cup would be postponed until 2022, I was understandably met with disappointment, as I’m sure many of you were. But make no mistake, the decision was the right one for several reasons, and I applaud the PGA TOUR, PGA of America and Ryder Cup Europe for their collaboration and resolve to rearrange this puzzle and make it work for everyone.
Having competed in two Presidents Cups, the atmosphere created by the fans is unique to these team competitions. Take the 2019 Presidents Cup, for example. Captain Ernie Els preached well in advance that he wanted Royal Melbourne to feel the fan support for the Internationals, and that’s exactly what happened. You could tell our players fed off that energy and encouragement, and it brought out some of the best golf those guys have played and instilled a level of confidence that they carry with them today.
While the circumstances surrounding this news are troubling and unfortunate, my focus has diverted to the positives and opportunities for growth that will surely arise from this extra year of preparation. For me personally as the International Team captain, I look forward to building better relationships with the guys and continue to form this bond around our International Team shield and all that it represents.
Down in Melbourne late last year, people saw the rebirth of the International Team, and it is my duty to ensure that this team continues that positive trajectory, even if we are forced to wait another year. What really excites me about the extra year is the opportunity it affords our players to develop and gain valuable experience.
At the end of the 2017 Presidents Cup, few people knew who Sungjae Im or Abraham Ancer were, and they ended up being two of the top point earners on the 2019 team. Abraham has been all over the front page of leaderboards as of late with that first win surely right around the corner, while Sungjae has lived up to his promise with his first PGA TOUR victory at The Honda Classic in March. Then you have Joaquin Niemann from Chile who was still 18 years old in 2017 and ended up being one of Ernie’s captain’s picks in 2019 following his breakthrough win at the Greenbrier.
We saw four countries and regions that were represented in the Presidents Cup for the first time in 2019. Of the 12-player team, seven were playing in their first Cup, and the average age of our squad was just under 29 years old – the youngest in International Team history. It is a testament to the legitimate talent development outside the United States.
In other words, a lot can happen in a year, but I am certain the 12 players who arrive with us in Charlotte will be hungrier than ever with an extra 365 days of valuable experience under their belts.
This change also allows our team to gather at the Wells Fargo Championship next May and refamiliarize ourselves with Quail Hollow. With this year’s tournament cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, our players would not have had another opportunity to play the course in tournament conditions prior to the Presidents Cup had it remained in 2021.
That tournament in Charlotte is not only one of my favorites on the PGA TOUR calendar but also one the players look forward to year in and year out. I had the opportunity to contend for the title back in 2006 and know firsthand the excitement and drama that course can produce. Our players will jump at the opportunity to play Quail Hollow next year as we begin building our game plan for 2022.
So, while I am disappointed to have to wait another year to try and win that Cup back from the Americans, I look forward to embracing my extended captaincy and putting our guys in the best possible position to succeed in Charlotte.
2022 can’t come soon enough!
All the best and stay safe,
(Courtesy: The Presidents Cup/ PGA Tour)