Playing For Country: Pounds Shines in USA Win at Junior Presidents Cup
IT IS 7:30 A.M. AT MYERS PARK COUNTRY CLUB IN CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA ON A COOL SEPTEMBER MORNING.
The sun rising over the course marks the final day of the Junior Presidents Cup and Team USA found itself in unusual territory –trailing the International Team.
The Woodlands Christian Academy senior Aaron Pounds was the first to walk to the tee box that day. He would be the tone-setter.
Pounds rocketed his first drive off the tee straight down the middle of the fairway and it rolled to a stop just 40 yards shy of the pin.
He then holed out for an Eagle – tone set.
“That really got some momentum going for the rest of the match,” the No. 10-ranked golfer in the country by AJGA said. “It was a good start. There were some roars out there, which helped the rest of the team. We all had some momentum early on in the day and that translated throughout the rest of the day.”
Pounds was one of 12 players chosen to represent the United States in the annual tournament. The Texas A&M-commit is fresh off a junior season that saw him help lead TWCA to a second straight TAPPS 5A State Championship and he won the overall individual State Championship to go along with it.
His work throughout the year had paid off.
“This tournament is what I’ve been working for all year,” Pounds said. “Knowing that I had the opportunity, if I played well, to be selected to the team. I was super excited going into it and it lived up to the expectation.”
Pounds finished his day defeating Jayden Ford of New Zealand (2-Up) to win a point for the United States. On the final day, Team USA rallied to score 8.50 points and win the 2022 Junior Presidents Cup, defeating the International Team 13-11.
“I’ve never done this before, representing my country,” Pounds said. “Just putting on the uniform gave me goosebumps before I went out and played. It was awesome to play with 12 of the best guys in the country. It was by far the coolest experience I’ve had so far in my golf career.”
Over the two-day tournament, Pounds played well.
In four-ball play, Pounds teamed up with Carson Kim from Yorba Linda, California to defeat Rayhan Abdul Latief and Jonathan Xavier Hartono of Indonesia 3&1 to capture a point. Later in the day in foursome play, Pounds teamed up with Eric Lee of Fullerton, California and they tied Anson Yeo and Juan Velasquez of Malaysia and Columbia to earn a half point for Team USA.
In total, Pounds ended up helping Team USA earn 2.50 of their 13 total points in the win and a solid putting game was a big factor.
“I definitely think my putting overall is something that I’ve been working hard on,” Pounds said. “Especially in match play. To win these matches, you have to be able to make these clutch putts. I felt like the greens were really fast this week, so speed control was super important, and I putted it really well.
“Just being able to make those putts when you need to make them, it was good to see them go in that week.”
The neatest part of the whole event for Pounds was the crowd.
As they played, a crowd filled with Myers Park Country Club Members, PGA Tour Officials and a mix of general golf fans filled the sides of the course and especially the gallery behind the 18th hole.
Walking up that final fairway, Pounds said it was special.
“This was by far the most that I’ve ever played in front of,” he said. “On 18, there was a huge gallery around the green watching. It was cool. There were a lot of loud roars. It felt more like a professional tournament than a junior tournament.”
With the win under his belt , Pounds spent the next few days hanging out with the PGA stars of the Presidents Cup Team. Justin Thomas and Kevin Kisner were two members of the team Pounds was especially excited to get to talk with and maybe even get some pointers.
“I knew we were taking a team picture with them in the morning and then we got to go watch them play,” Pounds said. “I tried to get some knowledge from those guys. It was pretty cool.”