Immelman humbled to follow in Player, Els' footsteps

Trevor Immelman (Getty Images)
Trevor Immelman (Getty Images)

South Africa's Trevor Immelman says he's honoured to follow in golf icons Gary Player and Ernie Els' footsteps after being named captain of the International team for the 2021 Presidents Cup.

Immelman, who was Els' assistant captain at the 2019 Presidents Cup in Melbourne, was announced as his successor for the 2021 event set to be held at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The 2008 Masters champion becomes the third South African to captain a Presidents Cup side after Els and three-time skipper Player.

Despite neither of Player or Els recording an elusive win for their side, Player led the International team to a memorable tie in 2003 against Jack Nicklaus' USA side at The Links at Fancourt.

READ | Immelman on Els: He's still a huge part of the team

Immelman admitted that he was humbled and proud for the opportunity to fly South Africa's flag high.

"It's an amazing honour. Any South African, when they're growing up, they're very well aware of who Ernie Els is and of who Gary Player is so for me to be able to have the opportunity to try and follow in those two guys' footsteps is something that is very, very special to me," he said in a tele-conference on Tuesday.

"Both of those guys are mentors and great friends and people that I've relied on throughout my life for advice and for guidance, and so for me to try to follow in their footsteps really is something that's pretty cool and that I don't take for granted. I'm really humbled by it.

"From a South African athlete's standpoint, we've had such a rich history of great athletes coming from a small country," continued Immelman.

"To have people perform at the highest level and win the biggest championships, whether it be in golf or rugby or cricket or swimming or all the other sports that South Africans compete in, it's proud for me to be a part of that group, and to fly our flag on behalf of the International team is something that I'm really looking forward to."

Last year at Royal Melbourne, Louis Oosthuizen was the only South African golfer to compete at the Presidents Cup.

However, Immelman dropped a few of South Africa's household names and believes that next year's tournament could see more representation from the rainbow nation.

"I have a sneaky suspicion that we're going to have a few South Africans on our team," he hinted.

"Obviously we have household names like Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, who's coming back from injury and starting to show some good form; we have Branden Grace, who won the South African Open a few months ago; and then we also have these youngsters coming through. Erik van Rooyen has been playing some beautiful golf out here on the PGA Tour; Christian Bezuidenhout is finally getting an opportunity to compete against the best players in the world and showing what he can do.

"You know, from a South African standpoint, I'm really looking forward to seeing how those guys compete over the next 18 months, and I look forward to possibly having a number of them on the team."

The 2021 Presidents Cup will be staged from 30 September to 3 October.

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