Immelman: Player the Ali of South Africa


Trevor Immelman said countrymen Gary Player and Ernie Els transcend the sport of golf in their native South Africa.

'(Player) is kind of like the Muhammad Ali of South African sport,' Immelman, the 2008 Masters champion, said Friday on 'Morning Drive.'

'Mr. Player has been around, set the trend for South African sportsmen. He did it at the toughest times, playing during apartheid in areas where he wasn't always welcome. He really did the hard yards for the rest of us and showed us it could be done.'

As for three-time major winner Ernie Els, Immelman sees him as the King of South African golf.

'Ernie would be like the Arnold Palmer of South African sport,' he said.

The Big Easy is wildly popular in his home country, but is highly scrutinized for everything he does.

'Ernie really is a polarizing figure in South Africa. When he's down there, if he breathes, people know about it. He's had to bear the brunt of a lot of that.'