CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After a successful showing last fall at the Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow Club, Xander Schauffele was feeling the good vibes when he returned to the crown jewel of the Queen City for this week’s 2023 Wells Fargo Championship.
And it showed on the scorecard (through his first 15 holes at least).
Schauffele – who compiled a 3-1-0 record alongside Patrick Cantlay against the International squad in September – was in prime position to lead after day one Thursday, but a pair of costly bogeys over his last three holes left him T-2 with Kevin Streelman, Taylor Moore, Ryan Palmer and K.H. Lee, who teed it up for Trevor Immelman’s worldwide All-Stars.
In a fan-favorite group alongside Presidents Cup teammate Jordan Spieth (72) and opponent Tom Kim (67), Schauffele fired a 5-under 66 to trail Tommy Fleetwood, who birdied his final two holes of the day for a bogey-free 6-under 65, by one. Kim joined Fleetwood in the bogey-free brigade as the only two players to finish the opening round without a blemish on their scorecards.
In his Presidents Cup debut, Kim wowed the crowd at Quail Hollow and finished with a respectable 2-3-0 record, and even squared off against Schauffele and his good friend Cantlay twice. Kim and Hideki Matsuyama lost to Cantlay and Schauffele, 3 and 2, in Friday’s four-ball match, but the South Korean got the upper hand against the American duo alongside fellow countryman Si Woo Kim, 1 up, in Saturday’s four-ball bout.
Of the 24 players who competed in the Presidents Cup, 17 are on hand this week, and 11 are inside the top 40 after round one. Schauffele is T-2 with Lee, while Kim, Cantlay and Adam Scott are all T-6 at 4 under. Even Canadians Taylor Pendrith and Corey Conners, who were both an embarrassingly bad 0-4-0 for the International team, sit T-25 and T-37, respectfully.
While the course isn’t playing the same this week as it did in September due to the different time of year and overseeded grass – not to mention the different competition formats – course knowledge goes a long way at a track as demanding as Quail Hollow, and that proved true once again on Thursday.