This week for Corey Conners has been a whirlwind. On Monday, he arrived at Augusta National, fresh off of qualifying into The Masters with his win at the Valero Texas Open last week. Then, there were enhanced media appearances, including a pre-tournament press conference.
With all of that, the Canadian shined in his first round at The Masters on Thursday. Shooting a 2-under 70, it puts Conners four strokes off the lead, despite being the first group to tee off.
“I know I was very unlikely to be here,” affirms Conners. “I can say with certainly that I didn’t think I would be here, but it worked out very well.”
Conners’ First Round Highlighted by Eagle on 15
Thursday’s opening round for Conners was the first time he teed it up at Augusta since 2015, when he competed as an amateur. The Front 9 was a slow and steady start, with two bogeys and one birdie on the card. An unsurprising opening nine given the magnitude of the Masters for the young 27 year old.
But the Back 9, Conners showcased similar glimpses of brilliance to his final round performance in San Antonio. He would birdie holes 13 and 14, with an exclamation point eagle on the par-5 15th. Despite bogeying the 18th, Conners has every reason to be thrilled with his opening round. He posted a 79 percent driving accuracy and an 83 percent greens in regulation. All the while, Conners was feeling the support and love from the Canadian contingent of patrons, who have made the long trek to support their country’s rising golf star.
“There are way more Canadian people than I was expecting — or at least people pretending to be Canadians — out there,” Conners stayed. “It was awesome.”
Conners Just Grateful to be at The Masters
For Corey Conners, he was not thinking about competing at The Masters two Monday’s ago in Texas. His goal was just to qualify for the Valero Texas Open and to post a strong finish.
The rest is history. Not only did he qualify by beating five other golfers in a playoff, but he would shoot six under on the Back 9 to secure his first PGA Tour victory. The win would grant Conners full exemption on the PGA Tour through to 2021. Not only is he now 13th in the FedEx Cup Standings, but he was granted full qualification into a plethora of events, including The Masters. No more Monday qualifiers required for this Canadian.
Given that Corey Conners was the first out on Thursday, he received an unexpected handshake from a golf legend. 18-time Major Champion Jack Nicklaus, who is a staple at Augusta for his ceremonial opening tee shot, spoke with the Canadian before he would embark on his Masters journey.
“That felt pretty special,” Conners said. “It’s cool that Jack Nicklaus knows who I am.”
For Conners, he hopes that his interaction with the Golden Bear will serve as a good luck charm to make the weekend at The Masters. Along with Mike Weir, who shot his best round at The Masters since 2013 on Thursday, it is a fun time to be a Canadian golfer.