Trevor Immelman has revealed he had to leave Louis Oosthuizen from his international team to face the United States in this week’s Presidents Cup, as the South African appeared on posters and the website advertising the £20 million launch event of the rebellious LIV series in Hertfordshire in June.
The international team was already considered a maverick against the Americans, but Immelman was told by the PGA Tour that he cannot select the 2010 Open champion because Oosthuizen has broken one of his little-known regulations.
The reason given, Immelman said, “is that Louis made certain announcements and allowed himself to be used in various marketing campaigns and announcements when he wasn’t released from the PGA Tour, and he did all those things before canceling his membership. There were there. so there are still some violations.”
Telegraph Sport understands there is turmoil in parts of the international hierarchy that Sawgrass HQ insisted Immelman could not elect LIV rebels, not even those like 39-year-old Oosthuizen who canceled his Tour membership before being banned for playing on the Saudi-funded circuit.
Immelman saw his side weakened with the world No 3 Cam Smith jump ship, along with world No 21 Joaquin Niemann, world No 24 Abraham Ancer and experienced campaigns such as Marc Leishman and Charl Schwartzel.
However, it is Oosthuizen who, according to Immelman, will miss the most in Charlotte, North Carolina, as the Rest of the World (minus Europe) team tries to beat the United States for the first time in nine games and for the second time since the Ryder. Cup clone was first played 28 years ago.
“Louis is a huge loss on and off the track”
“It hurts us a lot,” Immelman said. “Louis [was an] integral part of the international team. He is so experienced and still has what it takes to compete at the highest level, under the most pressure. Besides the way he plays, he is one of the leaders in the locker room. It’s a huge loss on and off the track.”
Oosthuizen, for his part, is confused by the Tour’s ruling. “I thought that by canceling my membership before I actually did anything wrong… there is no rule that says I have to be a PGA Tour member to play the Presidents Cup, especially as an international team player,” he said. . “It’s a punch in the stomach.”
It is not the first time that Oosthuizen has clashed with the Tour over the Presidents Cup. In 2015, the 2010 Open champion threatened to lead a boycott unless the Tour cut the points in-game from 34 to 30, giving the underdogs a chance to bench their weakest players. The Tour reluctantly agreed, yet there is a burning sense that the Americans should not be allowed to decide how the international team picks their dozen.
After the final game, a 16-14 win for the USA, Ernie Els, then Internationals captain, stated: “I know it’s a PGA Tour sanctioned event, but… we need to be separate, our own. make rules, to get our own choices.”
If the bookmakers are right and it’s a resounding win for the home side, expect international resistance to grow. “We have to be able to determine our own destiny,” Els said.