Presidents Cup captains talk LIV Tour, Charlotte golf course


Sep 20, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; International Team golfer Tom Kim (left) and International Team captain Trevor Immelman (right) talk during a practice day for the Presidents Cup golf tournament at Quail Hollow Club. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports


2022 Presidents Cup

Over 200,000 people are expected to attend this year’s Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow Club. Here’s our latest coverage, analysis and news from the tournament.

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Live competition for one of the biggest golf events of the year doesn’t start for another day, but the banter has already begun.

The Presidents Cup, an international golf tournament that pits some of the best golfers from the United States against some of the best from the rest of the world, begins at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte on Thursday. The two teams’ captains were made available to media on Tuesday — and they spoke on their appreciation for the course renovations ahead of the event, their thought processes for this year’s team selections (and how the LIV Tour looms in those selections), which team would win in a pickup basketball game (?) and more.

Here’s what you should know.

The U.S. squad is this year’s Presidents Cup favorite. In basketball, too?

This weekend marks the 14th iteration of the Presidents Cup. The international tournament event is similar to the Ryder Cup — which started before the Presidents Cup and specifically matches up the best golfers from the United States and the best golfers from Europe — in an lot of ways.

Among the ways the two are similar: The U.S. is generally the favorite.

In the 13 previous tournaments, the U.S. has won 11. The International field has won once (in 1998), and the teams tied in 2003. The inaugural event was in 1994.

For this made-for-TV extravaganza, there’s no fooling this year’s captains — one team is favored over another.

“We’re used to being called the favorite,” said Davis Love III, the captain of the American team. “Even when we lose three Ryder Cups in a row, they tell us, ‘Oh, but they’re the favorite.’ The other captain or the other team or you guys remind us that we’re the favorite. So we’re used to that. That’s on paper, and a lot of great coaches will tell you the game’s not played on paper. They’re played out there on the golf course.”

He added: “In the regular season, we only play it once because you never know what’s going to happen.”

Trevor Immelman, captain of the International Team, told reporters that “it’s quite clear that we’re the underdogs.”

“But the exciting part for us really is I do think that it frees us up, to answer your question directly, because we have nothing to lose,” said Immelman, the South African-born golfer who has made a name for himself on the PGA and European Tours. “If you look at our record in this tournament and you look at our World Rankings versus their World Rankings, we have absolutely nothing to lose.

“So we can go out there and play absolutely as free as we want, free as we can, and see if we can match up with the crazy good skills the Americans have.”

UNITED STATES – SEPTEMBER 22: A fan waves U.S. and Presidents Cup flags during the opening ceremony of The Presidents Cup at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Prince William County, Virginia on September 22, 2005. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images) Hunter Martin Getty Images

One reporter asked if the teams played a head-to-head basketball game, who would the starting fives be?

“We won’t play soccer or rugby against them, for sure,” Love said with a chuckle, adding, “I would bet that (Scottie) Scheffler and Tony Finau are good center/power forwards. We probably have a lot of good shooting guards. I would think Jordan (Speith), (Kevin) Kisner.”

Said Immelman: “Well, I’ve got (Taylor) Pendrith and (Cam) Davis for sure. Those are guys that are way over 6 feet, so we’re happy about that. We’ve got some size to start this thing. I kind of like little Tom Kim as a point guard. He’s got a fast mouth on him too, so he’s perfect for a point guard,” laughing as he said it.

“I still think we’re probably underdogs if we play in basketball too, though.”

FILE – Cameron Davis watches his shot on the sixth hole during the third round of the BMW Championship golf tournament at Wilmington Country Club, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022, in Wilmington, Del. Davis will compete on the International team at the Presidents Cup beginning Thursday, Sept. 22. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File) Nick Wass AP

Course build-outs at Quail Hollow welcomed by both captains

Immelman and Love were made honorary members at Quail Hollow “a little over a year ago,” they said. Love called it “kind of our home club again in North Carolina when we’re up here.”

But this club? For this event? It’s “absolutely incredible,” Love said.

Substantial course buildouts, including a pristine 2,500-seat horseshoe stadium that arose around the first tee, were installed to Quail Hollow Club’s 18 holes heading into this weekend. That, plus a retooling of the course’s best assets — pushing the infamous “Green Mile” to the middle of the back-nine as opposed to the final four holes of the course to allow more golfers to play on those famed holes — has been welcomed by both captains.

Tables are set up around the first tee at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, Sept. 9, 2022. Alex Slitz

“Everything that they built here is incredible,” Love said. “It’s an amazing build-out. Coming from Whistling Straits, and I was just at the TOUR Championship, and you think this is a big setup with a lot of tents and a lot of sky boxes, but this is just amazing.”

Quail Hollow Club has been the site of some fantastic finishes in high-profile events over the years. That includes the 2017 PGA Championship, as well as the Wells Fargo event on an almost annual basis. Immelman called the build-outs “second to none.”

“I’ve got to tip my cap to the PGA Tour and to the Harris family for everything they’ve done,” the International team’s captain said. “This is going to be an absolute spectacle.”

Newly built seating around the first tee Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, Sept. 9, 2022. Quail Hollow is preparing to host the Presidents Cup being on Sept. 20. Alex Slitz

Immelman on the LIV Tour affecting his roster: ‘All cards were out on the table’

Among the most fruitful back-and-forths from Tuesday afternoon involved how the captains responded to questions about players electing to play for the LIV Tour, rendering them ineligible from the Presidents Cup.

The LIV Tour is a professional golf tour financed by the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia and run by Australian entrepreneur and pro golfer Greg Norman. It’s made headlines this year, specifically, for finding PGA Tour stars and persuading them to defect to their league in exchange for enormous salaries. Phil Mickelson has made the move. So has Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and others.

According to rules that Immelman said he agreed to when he was chosen to be captain after the 2019 Cup, the event “was owned and sanctioned by the PGA Tour,” and thus that deemed some of his best options for the team ineligible for the PGA Tour event.

“Every single player that I spoke to from early on in this process knew exactly what the situation and the consequences were going to be,” Immelman said. “And they knew that if they made certain decisions, it was going to be highly unlikely they were going to be able to represent the international team. So that went into their decision-making process. All the cards were out on the table, and everybody knew where they stood.”

Presidents Cup captain Davis Love III in Sea Island, GA. on Friday, September 2, 2022. Love was being interviewed for The Charlotte Observer’s “Sports Legends of the Carolinas” series, in advance of the Presidents Cup coming to Charlotte Sept. 22-25, 2022. JEFF SINER

Love, who has been particularly outspoken about the LIV Tour and how it is impacting the game, weighed in on the phenomenon’s affect on this year’s event, too.

When asked if thought supporting the PGA Tour is more important than having the best 12 guys here this week, Love replied simply, “No. We’ve got both.”

He added: “We’re really happy with the 12 we’ve got because we know that they’re committed and excited. Look at Max Homa. He was talking about it since January, “I want to make this team, I want to make this team.” Billy Horschel’s been trying to make — he’s been on the bubble for three or four teams. He’s really excited.

“So, like Trevor, we have a bunch of guys who are excited and ready to play, and there’s no talk in our team room of anybody missing.”

Justin Pelletier contributed to this report.

This story was originally published September 20, 2022 3:27 PM.

Alex Zietlow writes about NASCAR, Charlotte FC and the ways in which sports intersect with life in the Charlotte area for The Observer, where he has been a reporter since August 2022. Zietlow’s work has been honored by the N.C. and S.C. Press Associations, as well as the APSE, which awarded him with Top-10 finishes in the Beat Writing and Short Feature categories in its 2021 writing contest. He previously wrote for The Herald in Rock Hill from 2019-22.

Justin is a 20-year veteran sports journalist with stops in Lewiston, Maine (Sun Journal), and Boston (Boston Herald). A proud husband, and father of twin girls, Pelletier is a Boston University graduate and member of the esteemed Jack Falla sportswriting mafia. He has earned dozens of state and national sportswriting and editing awards covering preps, colleges and professional leagues.

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