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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.”
HOUSTON - Standing in the back of the endzone of AT&T Stadium in December of 2018, North Shore's Dematrius Davis hurled a Hail Mary pass into the endzone. Ajani Carter went up and came down with the football with Shadrach Banks draped over his shoulders.
North Shore had just won the Class 6A Division I State Championship on a Hail Mary.
Then, there was Matthew Boling's amazing run to the UIL State Track & Field Meet in May of 2019. Boling smashed records in the long jump, 100-meter dash and ran one of the most historic final legs of the 4x400-meter relay.
Last June, there was Lake Creek softball. To go undefeated in softball is an amazing feat. Ava Brown was untouchable. Lake Creek was unstoppable. Their lineup mimicked that of the Houston Astros. Just strong top to bottom. Watching them complete the undefeated season was unforgettable.
Watching the track dynasty that has been created at Fort Bend Marshall by Lloyd Banks and company. The Buffs boys and girls teams are rolling. So is Summer Creek as back-to-back state champs.
These are the memories that I will cherish and walk away with as my time at VYPE comes to a close after 5 1/2 years. What a pleasure it has been to cover High School sports in the city of Houston.
Houston became my home in 2014.
I have covered HS sports in some form since then and now I am seeing some of the players I covered (Shelby McGlaun of Atascocita) coming back as coaches or getting their jerseys retired by their high school (Kenyon Green).
The countless State Championships I have gone and covered have been amazing. The chance to watch these kids and coaches fulfill their dreams is something you can't match. The tears of joy. The hoisting of that trophy and the ceremonial ice water bath.
The players I have seen and covered.
Some that come to mind are Charli Collier (Barbers Hill), Carsen Edwards (Atascocita), Dematrius Davis, Shadrach Banks and Zach Evans (North Shore), Rori Harmon and Kyndall Hunter (Cypress Creek), Austin Benigni (TWCA), Sophia Simpson (Barbers Hill), Aly Batenhorst (Seven Lakes), Devon Achane (FB Marshall) and so many others.
The coaches and Athletic Directors I have gotten to work with have been amazing.
So, those are just some of the memories. But it is time to close this chapter and move on to the next one in my life.
I can't thank Matt Malatesta enough for giving me the opportunity to join VYPE nearly 6 years ago. What I have learned from him is more than just about writing. It is about life and having fun in what you are doing. Building relationships and being the best at what you do. We have worked side-by-side for the past 5 1/2 years, created over 100 magazines together and enjoyed many lunches and coffees. I know that I wouldn't be who I am today without him as he has let me flourish and grow into a leadership position.
Mattie Ice, thanks for everything.
Also, thanks to Derek Dusek, Shane Hildreth, Justin Bull and the entire VYPE Management team for all they've done. Then to the people I've gotten to work with at VYPE - Dennis Silva II, Bradley Collier, Danie Tiller, Justin Hartojo, Carrie Friess, Matthew Reese, Thomas Bingham, Jackson DiPasquale, Cameron Driskill, Shana Willeford, Joshua Waclawczyk and so many many more - you have been great.
All I can say is thank you!
Since I was in middle school, I had dreamed about becoming a sports writer. I got to do that for the past 12 years since I walked into the doors of the Daily Toreador at Texas Tech and met Adam Coleman, who now works for The Athletic, and he gave me my first shot.
I have poured my heart and soul into VYPE and I expect them to flourish and continue to grow as the years move on. I will enjoy watching it happen.
So, after thousands and thousands of words. My final two for VYPE are these.