In next week’s Presidents Cup, an Internationals squad severely weakened by defections to the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series will be a massive underdog to a powerhouse United States lineup.
Internationals captain Trevor Immelman watched as his projected roster was decimated by PGA to LIV Golf defections, preventing them from competing in the biennial team matches.
Cameron Smith of Australia, the world number three and British Open champion, Chile’s Joaquin Niemann, Mexico’s Abraham Ancer, South African Louis Oosthuizen, Aussies Marc Leishman and Matt Jones, and India’s Anirban Lahiri were all dropped from the global squad.
“Over the last year or so, our team has faced a lot of adversity, but adversity makes you stronger,” Immelman said. “The 12 guys have put in a lot of effort. They are completely deserving of their position. I’m very proud of them.”
Masters champions Hideki Matsuyama and Adam Scott lead an Internationals team of eight rookies against an American team that includes 12 of the world’s 26 top-ranked players, including world number one Scottie Scheffler, beginning Thursday at Quail Hollow.
“We know exactly what we’re up against — possibly the best American team ever assembled,” Immelman said. “We’ll be standing up for underdogs all over the world.”
The Americans lead the all-time series 11-1-1, with eight consecutive victories, and have never lost at home.
“We have the chance to be the team that finally gets it done in the United States,” Australian Cam Davis said. “It would be a huge moment, and we’re all looking forward to it.”
The United States won the 2019 Presidents Cup in Melbourne, 16-14.
“I don’t believe we need to do too much motivation.” “It was a little closer than we wanted the last time we played in Australia,” said US captain Davis Love.
“We just go in with a lot of confidence, and we need to maintain that momentum.” Our guys understand that in match play, anyone can win any match, and if they are not ready by Thursday, someone will jump them, so we have to take it seriously and prepare.”
Seven members of last year’s US Ryder Cup team are back, including reigning Masters champion Scheffler, fourth-ranked Patrick Cantlay, fifth-ranked Tokyo Olympic champion Xander Schauffele, seventh-ranked 2022 PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas, ninth-ranked Collin Morikawa, 13th-ranked Jordan Spieth, and 14th-ranked Tony Finau.
Sam Burns, Billy Horschel, Cameron Young, Kevin Kisner, and Max Homa, who won the 2019 PGA Championship at Quail Hollow, are also on the US team.
The Americans aren’t a perfect lineup either. Will Zalatoris, who is ranked eighth, is out with a back injury, while Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Bryce DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, and Kevin Na have all dropped out of the LIV Golf rankings.
Nonetheless, the Internationals have only Matsuyama (16th) and Im Sung-jae (18th) of South Korea among the world’s top 20. They are one of five Asians on the team, which also includes South Koreans Kim Joo-hyung, Kim Si-woo, and Lee Kyoung-hoon.
There are also Canadians Corey Conners and Taylor Pendrith, Australians Scott and Davis, Chile’s Mito Pereira, Colombia’s Sebastian Munoz, and South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout in the Internationals.
The United States must exercise caution.
Scott has eight losses and a draw with the Internationals, while Matsuyama is playing in his fifth Cup and Im and Kim Si-woo are playing in their second.
“As an older guy, I feel a responsibility to go out and win points,” Scott said. “You’re looking for someone like me to guarantee points. That is easy to say but difficult to do. Giving the rest of the team confidence is the most important thing I can do.”
With a rout on the horizon, Scott believes the team can play relaxed and free, which makes them dangerous.
“If that can happen, it’s a bit of a sprint over 18 holes, and if we can get most of our guys playing to their potential for 18 holes, we can win,” Scott said.
Love admits to being concerned, despite claiming that he is not concerned about US complacency.
“We understand we’re up against it,” Love said. “Trevor is going to have a motivated team with a chip on their shoulder.”
“We must exercise caution. These guys aren’t going to take it lying down.”
Immelman held a two-day camp at Quail Hollow a month ago as a bonding event.
“We have a squad atmosphere,” Immelman said. “We don’t have to pair people of the same nationality in order to get the most out of them.”
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