Trevor Immelman has revealed that he had to leave Louis Oosthuizen out of his International Team to face the United States in this week’s Presidents Cup because the South African appeared on posters and the website advertising the £20 million launch event of the rebel LIV series in Hertfordshire in June.
The International team were already considered rank outsiders against the Americans, but Immelman was told by the PGA Tour that he cannot select the 2010 Open champion because Oosthuizen has contravened one of its little-known regulations.
The reason given, Immelman said, “is that Louis made particular announcements and allowed himself to be used in different marketing campaigns and announcements once he was not given the release from the PGA Tour, and he did all of those things before he resigned his membership . So there were still particular infractions there.”
Telegraph Sport understands that there is disquiet in sections of the international hierarchy that Sawgrass HQ insisted that Immelman could not pick any LIV rebels, even those such as 39-year-old Oosthuizen who resigned his Tour membership before he was banned for playing on the Saudi -funded circuit.
Immelman has seen his side greatly weakened with world No 3 Cam Smith jumping 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 Immelman claims he will miss the most in Charlotte, North Carolina as the Rest of the World team (minus Europe) attempt to beat the United States for the first time in nine matches and for just the second time since the Ryder Cup clone was first played 28 years ago.
‘Louis is a massive loss on and off the course’
“It hurts us immensely,” 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. Over and above the way he plays, he is one of the leaders in the locker room. It’s a massive loss on and off the course.”
For his part, Oosthuizen has been befuddled by the Tour’s ruling. “I thought by resigning my membership before I did anything wrong really… well there’s no rule that says I need 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 gut.”
It is not the first time Oosthuizen has clashed with the Tour over the Presidents Cup. In 2015, the 2010 Open champion threatened to lead a boycott unless the Tour reduced the number of points in play from 34 to 30, giving the underdogs the chance to bench their weakest players. The Tour reluctantly agreed, but still there has been a burning sense that the Americans should not be able to decide how the International team chooses their dozen.
After the last match, a 16-14 win for the US, Ernie Els, the then Internationals captain, declared: “I know it’s a PGA Tour-sanctioned event, but… we need to be separate, to make our own rules, to get our own choices.”
If the bookmakers are right and it is a resounding win for the home side then expect the international backlash to increase. “We need to be able to control our own destiny,” Els said.