Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond intends to fight his way into the 2021 Presidents Cup after former Masters champion Trevor Immelman was named the new International Team captain.
Jazz, who is ranked 39th on the Official World Golf Ranking, has caught Immelman’s attention where the South African spoke highly of the young Thai as well as the impact made by Asian golfers over the years in the prestigious team competition against the United States Team.
“You've got Jazz Janewattananond playing over there on the Asian Tour doing some great stuff and he's starting to get opportunities now in the biggest tournaments here in the States,” said Immelman.
With five Asians – Sungjae Im, Byeong Hun An, Haotong Li, C.T. Pan and Hideki Matsuyama - featuring prominently in the International Team which narrowly lost 16-14 to a Tiger Woods-led United States Team at Royal Melbourne last December, the newly minted captain, who replaces his idol and mentor Ernie Els, believes the region’s top stars will continue to make their presence felt when he leads the team to Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina next year.
“You look at the history of our team going back to (Shigeki) Maruyama and (Joe) Ozaki and so many other great Asian players, K.J. (Choi) included. We had a number of Asian players on our team and they performed brilliantly,” said the 40-year-old Immelman, who served as one of the four captain’s assistants to Els last year.
“I thought they (Asians) responded fantastically to the team environment, and it really was a close-knit team, and to see how they went out on the golf course, accepted the challenge of playing against the best players in the world, accepted the challenge of learning a brand new golf course in Royal Melbourne that is very intricate and very difficult, I really was impressed.
“The Asian players have always been a very, very important part of our team make-up. They will continue to be so. You look at a guy like Jazz, who's climbed his way into the top-50 in the World Rankings and playing some beautiful golf in his own right, him and a number of other guys, you look at Haotong Li, C.T. Pan and Ben An, we can go down the list of great Asian players who really are starting to make their mark in the world of golf.”
Jazz, the reigning Asian Tour No. 1 following a four-win season in 2019, missed qualifying automatically for the International Team by two rungs on the team ranking and was subsequently overlooked as Els selected PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year Im, Joaquin Nieman, Adam Hadwin and Jason Day as his captain’s picks. Day later withdrew with injury and was replaced by An.
“I was supporting the team. Everyone was telling me I should have been there playing but I said no. I didn’t feel bad at all. Ernie has been in this game for a long time and he knows what’s best for the team. He sees I’m not ready yet. The International Team played really good and I was really rooting for them. Yeah, I want to try to get into the 2021 team … there’s a long road ahead but I’ll be trying. I want to contribute to the International Team,” said the 24-year-old.