The Internationals have eight first-timers in the team, another point some are using against them, but veterans Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama, and Immelman and his assistant captains, see it as a positive. They had seven newcomers in Melbourne and fed off their youthful exuberance.
“It’s worked out quite well that we’ve got eight rookies here because they are just so excited,” Immelman said. “Everything is new and fresh, and they’re seeing everything for the first time. It’s kind of like Christmas morning when you can’t wait to open your presents up. That’s what I’m seeing from these kids walking into the team room for the first time.”
Immelman has a blueprint to how his squad can prevail, but he’s keeping it to himself. One thing is for sure, though: He intends to unleash the rookies with a no-holds-barred mentality.
The theory is to push the US they’ll need to take risks and assert pressure early. It’s understood the players have been given the green light to throw caution to the wind. If they can have the US players thinking about being part of losing the unlosable… they have a chance.
“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,” Immelman said. “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.”
It has the new guys counting down the minutes until go time.
“There’s no reason to play safe or do anything like that,” said rookie Cam Davis of Australia. “We’re doing match play. We play aggressive. The golf course is set up to play aggressive. We’re really, really excited to get started. We all really want to win this thing. We all feel that all of us playing well, there’s more than a chance to get that done.”
The International Team has momentum of a sort from 2019. Captain Ernie Els eradicated cliques and relied heavily on data to make pairings. He introduced a new shield logo and uniform to get behind. And it all worked for three days as Els’ team, with Immelman as an assistant, led heading to Singles for the first time since 2003 before the US came back to win 16-14.
“There was a clear line in the sand drawn for ’19 in our team,” said veteran Scott, who makes a record 10th appearance for the Internationals this week. “Things looked good there. So much changed. The direction of this team changed there, and that’s carried over.
“Trevor has embraced that a lot and done an incredible job,” he continued. “We’re going to see that continue no matter what the result and I’m … optimistic that we have a shot this week. These guys are incredibly talented, and relatively unknown maybe compared to the stars of the United States, but they’ve now been given a platform to show off this week, and I hope they do.”
Immelman has stats guru Duncan Carey dissecting the numbers, course setup and other factors to help provide him with optimal pairings and gameplan. Asked bluntly why he thinks his team can win, the captain didn’t hold back.
“They’re all elite athletes,” he said, “and they got to elite level playing on the PGA TOUR. You don’t get here by accident, man, I can promise you.
“You put a ton of work in,” he added. “You dedicate your life to it. You make sacrifice after sacrifice, investing time and money and blood, sweat, and tears to get to this level. You don’t just wake up one morning and get onto the PGA TOUR. These players are legit.”
Legit they are. And they’re ready to show it.