If Trevor Immelman said it once, he said it a hundred times in the run-up to this year's Presidents Cup: "We are huge underdogs." And it was hard to argue. After all, his International side had been decimated by departures from the established tours to LIV Golf.
Missing the likes of Cameron Smith, Juaquin Niemann, Louis Oosthuizen, Abraham Ancer and Marc Leishman, many feared for the competitiveness of what is already a typically one-sided contest, and those fears looked well-founded when the hosts scooped eight of the first 10 points and 11 of 15 at the halfway mark.
The US eventually ran out worthy winners, clinching the cup outright for the ninth successive time, but it wasn't the serene stroll to victory it was supposed to be. Far from it, in fact, as Immelman's team of plucky underdogs established themselves as a force to be reckoned with, and a host of unlikely names grabbed their opportunity to shine.
While we were denied some potential blockbuster match-ups as a result of golf's ongoing Civil War, it was brilliant to see the likes of Tom Kim, K.H. Lee, Si Woo Kim and Sungjae Im showcase their personalities, as well as their golfing abilities. The Presidents Cup was a far richer experience for it in the end.
In particular, Tom Kim proved to be the catalyst for an International fightback that no one saw coming. At dormie 5-down to Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele in Friday's fourball matches, the fiery South Korean unleashed the kind of celebration usually reserved for the final green and a match winning or saving endeavour. But it was that unapologetic never-say-die attitude that made him this edition's breakout star.
He eventually ran out of steam in his Sunday singles tie against Max Homa, losing from 3-up with seven to play when the destination of the cup had already been decided, but his victory celebration on Saturday afternoon will live long in the memory. It was Ian Poulter Miracle at Medinah stuff as he slid in a 10-footer to beat Cantlay and Schauffele on the final green and spark wild celebrations that were somehow fitting at 11-5 down.
TOM KIM FOR THE WIN!Huge moment for @JoohyungKim0621 to capture another win for @IntlTeam 🔥 pic.twitter.com/Lu9qYJQsMuSeptember 24, 2022
That reignited the visitors' cause, and while it was ultimately too little too late in terms of the final outcome, it was just in time to renew optimism for a flagging tournament that many had consigned to the scrap heap.
Following in his footsteps was his namesake, Si Woo, who took down Justin Thomas in the singles match of the day, as the pair exchanged exuberant fist-pumps before Kim landed the knockout blow on the last green. With several games hanging in the balance, for about 20 minutes, a comeback win for the ages looked a real possibility.
"We showed a lot of guts to fight back," Immelman said on Sunday evening at Quail Hollow before rounding on his team's critics. "At some point this afternoon, I thought there was still a chance. When you consider that we were 8-2 down on Friday evening, this team is no joke, and I'm sick and tired of it being spoken of as a joke.
"We're here for the long-run in this event. We're going to win this event. So we'll keep building. We'll keep fighting. At some point, we're going to win."
Their next chance will come at Royal Montreal Golf Club in 2024. By then, the International side could well be bolstered by the addition of future stars, inspired by what they saw in Charlotte, North Carolina, while the relatively young squad of 2022 will be a further two years into potentially world-beating careers.
And such is the quality of the current crop of Americans, they are unlikely to arrive in Quebec, Canada any stronger, meaning it's an enticing prospect for the future of the Presidents Cup. It will never live up to the Ryder Cup, but thanks to a weekend that saw the Internationals win 10.5 out of a possible 20 points, hope remains that it can yet establish a competitive identity of its own.
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A lifelong golf fan, Andy graduated in 2019 with a degree in Sports Journalism and got his first role in the industry as the Instruction Editor for National Club Golfer. From there, he went on to enjoy a spell freelancing for Stats Perform producing football reports, and then for RacingNews365 covering Formula 1. However, he couldn't turn down the opportunity to get back into the sport he grew up watching and playing and now covers a mixture of equipment, instruction and news for Golf Monthly's website and print title.
Andy took up the game at the age of seven and even harboured ambitions of a career in the professional ranks for a spell. That didn’t pan out, but he still enjoys his weekend golf at Royal Troon and holds a scratch handicap. As a side note, he's made five holes-in-one and could quite possibly be Retief Goosen’s biggest fan.
As well as the above, some of Andy's work has featured on websites such as goal.com, dailyrecord.co.uk, and theopen.com.
What's in Andy's bag?
Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub-Zero (9°)
3-wood: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus (15°)
Driving iron: Titleist U500 (17°)
Irons: Callaway Apex Pro '19 (4-PW)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (50°, 54° and 58°)
Putter: TaylorMade Spider X
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
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