Presidents Cupper’s hot start, pair of aces among five takeaways from Thursday’s first round of the Sanderson Farms Championship

JACKSON, Miss. – It’s tight at the top.

There are nine players within a shot of the lead after the first round of the 2022 Sanderson Farms Championship at The Country Club of Jackson. Davis Riley, from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and Will Gordon lead at 6 under, but there are seven golfers who are tied for third a shot behind.

Both Riley and Gordon played in the afternoon wave. Three golfers shot 5 under in the morning, but Brandon Matthews had a round to remember. Gary Woodland had a hole-in-one. Well, kind of.

Here are five takeaways from the first round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, including a pair of aces.

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Local favorite in front after opening round

Davis Riley of the United States plays his shot from the 18th tee during the Sanderson Farms Championship at The Country Club of Jackson on September 29, 2022, in Jackson, Mississippi. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

On Wednesday, Davis Riley called the Sanderson Farms Championship his fifth major.

He said that added pressure is likely why he hasn’t played as well in this event as he would have liked. Yet during Thursday’s first round at The Country Club of Jackson, he turned aside all of his past misfortunes and tied the round of the day, along with Will Gordon.

Riley, from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, shot 6-under 66 to take the lead heading into Friday’s second round. He went out in 4-under 32 and had a clean card with six birdies to no bogeys and leads a pack of seven golfers who are tied for third a shot behind him.

“Pretty stress-free,” Riley said. “When I was out of position, I either left myself a pretty simple 2-putt from 40 feet or a pretty simple leave to get up and in. Pretty stress-free day, and hopefully I can continue more of that.”

Neither Riley nor Gordon have won on the PGA Tour during their careers. A first-time winner won the Sanderson Farms Championship from 2014-19.

Put a one on the card x2

Brandon Wu’s tab at his home course of Trinity Forest in Dallas will have a few drinks put on it.

That’s because he recorded his fourth career ace – and first in a professional round – at the par-3 fourth hole. He pulled an 8-iron from 181 yards.

“I took a little bit off. Hit, obviously, a nice shot,” Wu said. “I couldn’t believe that it went in because I was half expecting it to roll off the back. The greens are so quick out here and downwind, I was pretty shocked that it went in, but pretty happy.”

Wu wasn’t the only one to record an ace on the fourth hole. MJ Daffue hit a 9-iron that tumbled in the cup during the afternoon wave on the same hole.

Chilly start

Sepp Straka of Austria plays his shot from the 10th tee during the Sanderson Farms Championship at The Country Club of Jackson on September 29, 2022, in Jackson, Mississippi. (Photo by Raj Mehta/Getty Images)

It was a chilly morning at The Country Club of Jackson.

Temperatures nearly dipped into the 40s as the early wave began their rounds. It warmed up to be a beautiful afternoon at 75 degrees, but it was some of the coldest weather Tour players have experienced on this side of the pond since the spring season.

“The course is playing tough in the morning, it was really cold,” said Andrew Putnam, who shot 5-under 67. “Felt like a winter day and breezy, so yeah, I was happy with my round.”

Added Sepp Straka: “It was freezing this morning. It was really cold. I haven’t had the cold in a long time. That was a little new.”

Christiaan Bezuidenhout building off Presidents Cup

Christiaan Bezuidenhout of South Africa plays a shot on the 15th hole during the Sanderson Farms Championship at The Country Club of Jackson on September 29, 2022, in Jackson, Mississippi. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

It’s safe to say Christiaan Bezuidenhout is carrying some momentum from last week’s appearance in the Presidents Cup.

Making his first appearance on the international stage, Bezuidenhout went 1-0-1 for the International team at Quail Hollow Club, winning his singles match against Kevin Kisner. Now, he’s a shot off the lead in Mississippi.

Bezuidenhout shot 5-under 67, and he started with birdies on his first two holes and four of his first six. He bogeyed the par-5 14th but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 15 and 17.

“You learn a lot playing against the best players in the world, and last week most of the best players were there,” Bezuidenhout said. “We faced a strong U.S. team last week. Every week that you play against the best players in the world, you can play your game, and that’s the only way you’re going to get better.”

Defending champ Sam Burns with solid start

2022 Sanderson Farms Championship
2022 Sanderson Farms Championship

Sam Burns watches his drive on the first tee during the first round of the 2022 Sanderson Farms Championship at the Country Club of Jackson in Jackson, Mississippi. (Photo: Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press)

Sam Burns has defended his title once before on the PGA Tour at the Valspar Championship last season. He has a chance to do so at the Sanderson Farms Championship, too.

Burns began his title defense with a 2-under round of 70. He had two birdies and no bogeys. He also made his debut on the international stage for the United States last week, going 0-3-2.

“Just couldn’t really get much going out there,” Burns said. “Golf course was playing pretty difficult, but overall not a bad round.”

Burns is paired with Bezuidenhout again on Friday. They tee off at 8:33 a.m. ET.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek