Photo: Charlie Riedel
For all the competitors who return to Augusta National year after year, either as former champions or golfers who consistently are high in the world ranking, there’s a Corey Conners.
The unlikeliness of the 87 players in the field for the Masters, which begins Thursday, Conners didn’t get his invitation until Sunday night.
That was after he won the Valero Texas Open. That was after he won a qualifier the preceding Monday — in a playoff, no less — just to make the ranks in San Antonio.
Conners, a 27-year-old from Listowel, Ontario (about 100 miles west of Toronto), has had a whirlwind 48 hours to play his second Masters.
“It’s been wild,” he said Tuesday afternoon. “After getting the victory, I did some stuff with Valero at the tournament and was able to fly here Sunday night. I arrived really late and took it easy yesterday. I tried to soak it in and realize that I’m in Augusta. I’m going to be teeing it up in the Masters.”
Part of his Monday evening was a clothes-shopping trip “because I had packed for a Monday qualifier.” His wife, Malory, and his manager helped with some of the logistics to get him ready for his trip to Georgia.
By his own admission, he hadn’t given this any thought after he earned his way into the Texas Open field.
“I didn’t start thinking about the Masters until after the round on Saturday, going into Sunday, and realized it was a possibility,” said Conners, who was a shot behind third-round leader Si Woo Kim. “My wife was checking us back in for our flight back to Palm Beach Sunday morning on the iPad in the hotel room, and I’m like, ‘Don’t check us in for that flight quite yet, I have some other plan.’ “
It was a wild Sunday ride into the winner’s circle. Conners had four consecutive bogeys on the front nine but offset those with 10 birdies to shoot a final-round 66, 6 under par.
He was the first Monday qualifier in nine years to win a PGA Tour event.
“I’m sure he’s going to be enjoying this week, after his first tour win,” said Rickie Fowler, who finished 10 strokes behind Conners. “Your first trip to Augusta is pretty special, but it definitely doesn’t get old.”
Conners’ first trip to Augusta came in 2015, as an amateur. Getting into the field as the 2014 U.S. Amateur runner-up, He shot an opening-round 80, so even a 69 in the second round couldn’t get him inside the cut, which he missed by three strokes.
In his second year on the PGA Tour, Conners has endured an erratic season. He has made the cut in only five of 13 tournaments. Of those five, he has a win, a second and a third.
“I feel like I’m playing well,” he said. “I definitely want to get myself in the mix and hopefully have a chance to win. A top-10 finish would be pretty awesome after winning last week.”
As the last player in the field, Conners any finish would be awesome.
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Published at Tue, 09 Apr 2019 22:05:00 +0000