Golf-South Korea form backbone of International team's Presidents Cup hopes
South Korea will form the backbone of the International team's hopes of upsetting the United States at the Presidents Cup with a record four players set to tee off on Thursday at the Quail Hollow Club. Im Sung-jae, Kim Si-woo, Tom Kim and K.H. Lee make up one-third of Trevor Immelman's 12-man squad and will be counted on to produce points if the Internationals are to challenge the heavily favoured Americans.
South Korea will form the backbone of the International team's hopes of upsetting the United States at the Presidents Cup with a record four players set to tee off on Thursday at the Quail Hollow Club.
Im Sung-jae, Kim Si-woo, Tom Kim and K.H. Lee make up one-third of Trevor Immelman's 12-man squad and will be counted on to produce points if the Internationals are to challenge the heavily favoured Americans. Two of those South Korean rookies, 20-year-old dynamo Tom Kim, the youngest player in this year's event, and Lee will join forces to take on the U.S. duo of Cameron Young and Collin Morikawa in Thursday's opening foursomes.
Im will partner Canadian Corey Conners as they face multiple major winners Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas while Kim Si-woo and Australia's Cam Davis will go against world number one and Masters champion Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns. The sight of four South Koreans teeing up at a Presidents Cup is a source of immense pride for trail-blazing Choi Kyoung-ju (KJ Choi), who in 2002 became the first Korean to win a PGA Tour event, and is at Quail Hollow in an assistant captain's role.
"Four guys is fantastic, in 2003 it was just me in South Africa, very difficult," Choi told reporters on Wednesday. "I did it (playing on PGA Tour)... "We can go. It's possible. I'm very proud of my younger players.
"I love it. It's more supporting together. The future is more better players coming. So I like it." Excluding Europeans, Immelman had a world of talent to draw from and found the players he needed in Asia, signalling an exploding growth for the sport on the continent.
Im and Tom Kim were among the six automatic qualifiers while Lee and Kim Si-woo were two of Immelman's captain's picks. Adding Japan's Hideki Matsuyama, a record five Asian players are represented on the International squad.
"Five Asians on our team this time, which is a record," stated Immelman proudly. "And we have K.J., who's an assistant captain. "I think it's just a nod and a testament to the amazing work that countries have done at the grass roots level all over the world to now where we start to see this talent break through at the highest level.
"When you look at our team, what we're trying to tap into is the international team represents billions of people all over the world. "We're trying to tap into that, inspire youngsters all over, welcome fans from all of those countries to come on down and support us in some way, shape, or form because we're their team."
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