South Africa’s Immelman, the 2008 Masters champion, admitted it was disappointing to see players including world No. 2 Cameron Smith and 13th-ranked Joaquin Niemann ruled out after their jump to the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series, which saw them lose their PGA Tour status.
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But he said he was more than satisfied with the squad assembled, which already featured 2021 Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama of Japan and 2013 Masters winner Adam Scott of Australia.
“These are the players that wanted to be on the team,” Immelman said. “I want the guys that are committed.”
Scott has played 10 Presidents Cups and Matsuyama has featured in four.
But five of the six captain’s picks named by Immelman are newcomers to the match play showdown that features an International team of players from everywhere except Europe taking on the United States in a competition modeled on the Ryder Cup.
Canada’s Taylor Pendrith, South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Aussie Cam Davis, South Korean Lee Kyoung-hoon and Colombia’s Sebastian Munoz will all make their Presidents Cup debuts at Quail Hollow in North Carolina, where the event tees off on September 22.
South Korean Kim Si-woo was also selected by Immelman for a team that has a total of eight rookies.
When the dust settled after the LIV Golf departures, the six players who qualified via points standings were Matsuyama, Scott, South Koreans Im Sung-jae and Kim Jooh-yung, Canadian Corey Conners and Chile’s Mito Pereira.
Immelman was granted two extra captain’s picks after Smith and Niemann defected to LIV Golf — where both made their debuts at Boston last week.
Already out of the mix were South African Louis Oosthuizen and Mexico’s Abraham Ancer and Carlos Ortiz.
“I’m not going to lie to you, absolutely it’s disappointing,” Immelman said of not having a player like Smith, who won his first major title at the British Open in July, at his disposal.
He said Smith and others had kept him informed of their plans as he tried to adjust to the quickly shifting landscape.
He added that all of the rebels knew a move to LIV would rule them out of the Presidents Cup — even though some indicated after the fact they considered that unfair.
“Every single player, every single agent, every single caddie, everybody involved knew exactly the situation we are in,” Immelman said.
“Everybody was crystal clear what the situation was and made their decision accordingly.”
Immelman said his side will embrace its underdog role as the tournament, postponed from 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic, returns.
In 13 previous editions the Internationals have won just once, in Australia in 1998. The two sides played to a draw in South Africa in 2003.
Tiger Woods captained the United States to a 16-14 victory at Royal Melbourne in 2019, the most recent of the Americans’ 11 triumphs.
US captain Davis Love will name his captain’s selections on Wednesday.