The only PGA Tour tournament sponsored by a Canadian company this season has Canadians near the top of the leaderboard. Corey Conners and Mackenzie Hughes share that role this week at the RBC Heritage.
Hughes stormed out of the gate quickly with three birdies in his first seven holes. He finished with a three-under 68, putting him in a tie for sixth.
Conners went bogey-free with eight birdies, shooting a Friday low 63.
“Pretty awesome round,” said Conners to reporters on Friday. “I felt great about my game. Rolled in a bunch of birdie putts to pay off with good shots.”
After winning his first PGA Tour event last year at the Valero Texas Open, Conners is looking for similar success. With only one top 10 finish this season, the Listowel, Ontario had a slow start to 2020, missing two consecutive cuts before the PGA Tour shut down.
This week at Harbour Town, Conners’ game is rounding into shape. His strength is his ball-striking, with a 71.4 percent driving accuracy and 88.9 percent greens in regulation for the second round. Putting is an area that needs improvement; Conners ranks 199th on the PGA Tour in strokes gained: putting (-0.573).
Round two was a different story, recording 2.53 strokes gained: putting, a +2.05 on the entire field. On a course where the conditions are yielding low scores, Conners understands the need to make birdies.
“I just tried to keep my confidence going and play aggressively here,” Conners said. “I haven’t had a lot of success on this course before. It will be my first time playing the weekend. I think my experience over the last few years helped me. I’m comfortable out here, and I like the golf course a lot.”
For Hughes, the struggles continued in 2020, where he missed five consecutive cuts. The Honda Classic, which boasts one of the more difficult courses on the PGA Tour, saw Hughes achieve the second runner-up of his career.
The 29-year-old is focused on his swing, making sure the rhythm is producing accurate shots.
“One of the things I’ve been working on this week in my golf swing is just the rhythm,” Hughes said to reporters after his second round. “That’s will be something I just keep going back to all weekend. If I do that well, I’ll keep playing well.”
Mac makin’ moves at the @RBC_Heritage 👀 pic.twitter.com/VNZbtCqEiN
— Golf Canada (@GolfCanada) June 19, 2020
For both Canadian players, being in the mix for the weekend is the goal.
With the PGA Tour back in full swing, Corey Conners and McKenzie Hughes look to develop consistency in their play, propelling them up the leaderboard.
“2020 has been a bit of a struggle for me so far,” Hughes said. “I’ve had a great result and a lot of other mixed results. So today was a nice round. A nice spot for the weekend.”