The golfing world’s attention this week will be focused on the Presidents Cup, which gets underway at Quail Hollow in North Carolina on Thursday, with the International team, under the captaincy of South African Trevor Immelman, left with a mountain to climb against the United States.
America have won the last eight editions of the Presidents Cup and if that weight of history were not enough, the International team has been hard-hit by defections to LIV Golf.
While American players such as Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka have also joined the breakaway league, the United States still boast five players in the top-10 of the world golf rankings in their team.
The riches on offer in LIV Golf translate into an awfully large amount of Rand, so Immelman is right when he says the players he does have will all be very hungry to win, given that they have shown that their loyalties do not necessarily lie with money.
The Americans have won 11 of the 13 Presidents Cup tournaments, so the event desperately needs to avoid becoming an insipid one-horse race. There were signs of revival in the Presidents Cup for the International team in 2019 at Royal Melbourne under another South African captain, Ernie Els, and Immelman has mad it clear he intends to build on what his compatriot put in place.
United States captain Davis Love will have to deal with his team being massive favourites, and can call on seven members of the squad that hammered Europe 19-9 in the last Ryder Cup.
It is, however, the youngest ever US team to play in the Presidents Cup.
Immelman will field a record five Asian players in his line-up, with Christiaan Bezuidenhout the only South African as LIV golfers Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace are not eligible.
Australia’s Adam Scott and former Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama are the two senior International players who have considerable Presidents Cup experience.
But there are eight rookies in all in the Presidents Cup line-up.