Presidents Cup 2022: Best moments, sights and sounds from Quail Hollow

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The U.S. team faces off against the International team in a matchup between golf’s best, with team USA leading 4-1 after the first round.

Though the competition will undoubtedly be fierce, the Presidents Cup is a charitable affair. As such, we can expect a bit of a lighter tone than we would, say, on a Masters Sunday at Augusta National.

Here are some of the more fun moments we’ve noticed during Thursday’s action at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina:

Looking ahead to Round 2
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It was more of the same for the U.S. team in round one of the 14th Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow Club, as the Americans opened up an impressive 4-1 lead.

It would have been a shutout if world No. 1 golfer Scottie Scheffler and No. 12 Sam Burns hadn’t let a 3-up lead evaporate by losing the last four holes against No. 75 Si Woo Kim and No. 66 Cam Davis.

Still, the U.S. team looks to be on its way to winning a ninth straight Presidents Cup and 12th in 14 events. The team that led after Day 1 of play has gone on to win 10 of the past 13 editions, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

“We have some strong pairings for the next format,” U.S. team captain Davis Love III said. “We’ll run the same offense and try to win each session.”

Friday’s action will shift to five four-ball (best ball) matches, which is the format in which the internationals did their damage at the last Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne in Australia in 2019. The international team went 6 1/2 and 2 1/2 in four-ball matches three years ago. Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas were the only U.S. team to win in round one; Thomas and Rickie Fowler were the only Americans to win in round three (Tony Finau and Matt Kuchar tied).

That’s why the U.S. team’s 16-14 victory over the internationals was much closer than expected. The internationals will need similar success on Friday.

“We hung in there,” international team captain Trevor Immelman said. “We got to a real tough start and were behind the eight-ball early. The Americans played brilliant golf today. We’ll hang in there and keep fighting. That’s what we do.” — Mark Schlabach

A little bit of luck
An inch either way and this Max Homa shot would have gone straight into the water. Instead, it hit the most conveniently placed rock possible. Homa and Tony Finau managed to salvage par out of it.

We’ve all been there
Not exactly what Justin Thomas was intending with this shot out of the bunker. It could have been worse!

Faces in the crowd

They don’t call it the Presidents Cup for nothing. According to North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, former U.S. Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton are planning to attend the four-day tournament at Quail Hollow Club this weekend. Cooper told reporters that President Joe Biden might also be coming Sunday. “I think that will just add to the aura of the event,” Cooper said. Cooper watched players tee off of No. 1 in a suite with former North Carolina and Kansas basketball coach Roy Williams.

Weather a factor?

The wind is howling at Quail Hollow Club, as a storm system is starting to blow through Charlotte. Xander Schauffele had to remove his hat before hitting his second shot from the No. 13 fairway. Temperatures have been in the mid-90s for much of the week. The passing cold front is supposed to drop temperatures by nearly 20 degrees; forecasts call for highs of 75 degrees Friday.

The Justin and Jordan show

The pairing of Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth is working out early in their match against Sungjae Im and Corey Conners. On the first hole, Spieth hit his tee shot into the left rough. Thomas made a 7½-footer to save par. On the next hole, he hit his tee shot into the pine straw, leaving Spieth with a tricky recovery shot off a bad lie. Spieth knocked it to 10 feet. Then, on the par-3 fourth, Thomas somehow chunked his tee shot, leaving the ball about 44 yards from the hole. Spieth, one of the best scramblers in the game, knocked the second shot to about 4 feet. As Spieth walked up to the green, Thomas patted himself on the back. The U.S. squad was 2-up through five holes after a birdie on No. 5.

Young crushing it

It didn’t take U.S. team rookie Cameron Young to make an impact. Playing with Collin Morikawa in the third match, Young, one of the longest hitters on the PGA Tour, crushed a 306-yard drive down the middle of the No. 1 fairway. After Morikawa hit the second shot to 25 feet, Young nearly holed out from the fringe. They made par and halved the hole.