Trevor Immelman named 2021 International team Presidents Cup captain
The Presidents Cup has played a significant role in Trevor Immelman’s career. It stands to reason that taking on the role of a Presidents Cup captain is one of the most important things he’s ever done in golf.
Immelman, just 40 years old, was introduced on Tuesday as the seventh man to lead the International team in the biennial competition, taking the helm from fellow South African native Ernie Els for the 14th edition of the Presidents Cup scheduled for September 2021 at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C. He’ll be 41 at the time of the competition, making the former Masters champion the youngest to serve as captain, eclipsing Tiger Woods, who was 43 when he led the U.S. to victory in December as playing captain in Melbourne, Australia.
The U.S. rallied to defeat the Internationals, 16-14, at Royal Melbourne Golf Club and extend its winning streak to eight dating to 2005. The U.S. leads the series 11-1-1.
“It is going to be an amazing honor for me, and for my family and I to be a part of that,” said Immelman, who served as a captain’s assistant under Els in Australia. “The Presidents Cup and the PGA Tour [have] been a massive part of my career. And so for me to now lead the International team is something that really, it's a speechless moment. It's the highlight of my career and something that I can't wait for.”
Coincidentally, Immelman made his Presidents Cup debut in 2005 after being selected by compatriot Gary Player as one of two captain’s picks for the matches at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Lake Manassas, Va. It altered the arc of his career.
“Gary Player took me as a captain’s pick, which gave me PGA Tour status at the time,” he said. “I went on to win in 2006, so you could say the Presidents Cup was a huge part of launching my PGA Tour career.”
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Immelman won the 2006 Cialis Western Open and two years later he captured the Masters for his lone major championship. His last victory came at the 2013 Hotel Fitness Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour.
Though he does not possess extensive experience in the Presidents Cup, Immelman came highly recommended by Els, who reportedly pushed hard for his fellow countryman. Before serving as an assistant at Royal Melbourne, Immelman competed twice for the International team, compiling a 1-6-1 record. In 2017, he served as the captain of the International team in the first Junior Presidents Cup.
“My relationship with Trevor goes way back, and I have always had the utmost respect for him as a player and a person,” Els said. “Trevor was an invaluable member of our team and completely bought into what we were trying to do at Royal Melbourne, so it is gratifying to see him take this next step and lead the International team.”
“The International team is gaining a driven, passionate and affable new leader in Trevor Immelman,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said. “Trevor is universally respected in the world of golf, and he will receive immense support as he navigates this new and exciting challenge. His love for the game and the Presidents Cup made him an ideal captain’s assistant for Ernie Els in 2019.”
A broadcaster for CBS Sports and Golf Channel while still competing occasionally, Immelman said that succeeding Els and serving as the third native of South Africa to lead the International team is “a massive responsibility” and “a little overwhelming.” That’s not to suggest he isn’t ready for the chance to build on the momentum that the International team appeared to generate before the American rally in Sunday singles spoiled what was brewing to be a major upset in Australia.
“I think it's going to add a different dynamic,” Immelman said of his youthful perspective. “I grew up playing with a lot of these guys and am good friends with a lot of them. We are already very accustomed to each other, we understand each other’s games and the way we react while playing, and we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. The goal for us is to find a way to make it advantageous for our team, and I think we can.”
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In addition to his two PGA Tour wins, Immelman has six international titles. He also won the 2003 World Cup teamed with Rory Sabbatini. It’s his experiences as part of a team, and not his individual accomplishments, that he seems to relish more.
“It’s one of the things that I’ve missed throughout my career. It’s one of the reasons why I love doing TV, as well, is that team aspect,” he said. “The way that people can come together and work together for one common goal. In the Presidents Cups that I played, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I love hanging out with a group of people and working towards something. And it was one of the best weeks of my life, quite frankly, in my career, being down in Australia with that group of guys and wives and caddies and a whole support staff.
“So for me to have this opportunity to do the same thing again, and maybe in a little way, put my own little stamp on it, is something that I just cannot wait for.”
A successor to Woods has yet to be selected for the American team, but it is believed that two-time major winner Zach Johnson, one of three captain’s assistants to Woods in Melbourne, is the favorite.