"(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."
- Garcia apologizes to Woods | Tee times
- Sergio 'fried chicken' jab | Tiger: 'Hurtful'
- Mell: Disagree with anchor ban, but pure intent
- Sergio sponsor TMaG: Comment 'offensive'
- Z. Johnson back at Colonial | Groupings | Tee times
- Colonial reax: Garcia remark | Singh, anchor
- Fantasy: BMW PGA, Crowne Plaza power rankings
- Lewis in rainy Bahamas | Under water | Tee times
- USGA, R&A ban anchored stroke | Explanation
- Chapman set to defend at Senior PGA | Tee times
- Fowler plans to donate $100K to tornado relief
- McIlroy denies G-Mac rift, mum on management