Corey Conners nearly did the unthinkable last weekend. After earning his first PGA Tour victory in Texas the week prior to qualify for The Masters, Corey continued his strong play by taking the early clubhouse lead in the opening round at Augusta. His game held up over the first three rounds but inevitably the exhaustion and roller coaster of emotions caught up to the Canadian on Sunday, leading to a four-over 76 and a 46thplace finish.
Regardless, it has been a heck of a ride for Corey these past few weeks and I caught up with him on the range at Harbour Town Golf Links today prior to the RBC Heritage. Turns out, not being in one of the last groups gave Corey the opportunity of a lifetime; watching Tiger Woods win The Masters with his own eyes. That story, plus details on his wife Malory’s newfound fame and more below.
Q: Can I get a quick timeline from winning at The Valero, to teeing off on Thursday morning at Augusta?
A: “We took a flight from San Antonio to Augusta, The Valero folks hooked us up with a plane ride and we were able to get there, get settled in. Monday took the day off. Tuesday played nine, Wednesday played nine & par-three tournament. Tried to take it as easy as possible. The golf course is very tricky but it being my second time around there I had good memories from 2015 and was able to just enjoy a couple days of prep and not wear myself out.”
Q: You improved scores immensely from your first trip in 2015. What do you attribute that to?
A: “I shot 80 the first time. I think I was just ready and knew what to expect. The golf course is playable and sets up well for my game but yeah, I think I was a little more nervous last time around. I felt comfortable out there, I felt like I belonged and was able to put together a pretty good first round.”
Q: I saw you had a cool moment with Jack (Nicklaus) on the 1stTee Thursday. Were there any other standout introductions?
A: “Yeah that same morning I spoke with Gary Player, he had sent me a tweet and that was pretty cool. He congratulates all the winners but it was nice. I saw him a few times throughout the week and he was awesome; really supportive and when he congratulated me it felt pretty awesome.”
Q: Between winning and then contending in The Masters, what would you say was the coolest or most electric moment of the past few weeks?
A: “I think just playing that back nine on Sunday at The Valero was so cool. I felt great, played really well, made a bunch of birdies and it just felt so incredible to get the job done and get over the line and get the victory. Obviously The Masters experience was pretty special as well, its an incredible place. I tried to enjoy myself but its all been a bit of a blur the last couple of weeks.”
Q: I can only imagine you’re sort of running on empty right now. How do you feel about this week?
A: “I feel good. It’s such a relaxed place here, a quiet town. I love it here, love the golf course, and really excited. I was definitely a little tired on the weekend at Augusta, but I’m feeling refreshed now. Going to take it easy the next couple of days and just try to enjoy the week and keep the good play going.”
Q: Once you were finished on Sunday, were you able to watch Tiger? And who did you watch with?
A: “I went and watched 18. I went down to the tee with a couple of friends. Taylor Pendrith, who was there with me all week. My wife, her brother, and a couple of other relatives. Yeah, we watched him play. It was pretty cool to see. I’m a big Tiger fan, grew up watching him play and have a lot of memories as a kid of watching him win. It was really cool to be there in person and watch him get it done.”
Q: Malory sort of went viral as you were getting it done at Valero. How is she adjusting to this new fame?
A: “Yeah, she wasn’t really expecting it I don’t think and it’s been pretty cool for her. We were both getting recognized when we went out to eat last week and I think she’s enjoying it. She has handled it really well. She’s so supportive of me and I think that showed with her emotions on Sunday at The Valero. It’s really cool for both of us. I think she was a little intimidated at first but it’s awesome, enjoyable, and makes you feel pretty good.”
Q: Now that you have a win under your belt, what’s on the table for the rest of the year? What are your goals?
A: “I haven’t really been able to step back and think about that too much but I would say just try to keep playing, try to keep working hard. I don’t want to sit back and be overly happy with that. I want to keep giving myself chances to win and getting into contention and see how far I can get into the FedEx Cup Playoffs and hopefully get into a few more majors this year.”
Q: And finally, did you have a chance to watch the Leafs game last night? There are a bunch of guys from the GTA now on the Tour. Do you talk about that in the locker room/on the course?
A: “Yeah, definitely. Mac Hughes and I, and Hearn, are huge Leafs fans. I watched the game, I’m staying in a house with Mackenzie Hughes, we were watching the game. And also Nick Taylor, I think the Leafs are growing on him even though he’s a West Coast, Vancouver guy. Awesome to see them get the victory. And the first thing when I got here that we were talking about was that, with some of the caddies. Nick Taylor’s caddie is a big Boston fan, I was giving him a few jabs. A bunch of Leaf fans out here. It’s exciting to see them doing well and for them to have a chance. Hopefully they can make it through the series and I’ll be able to go to a game.”
Corey will tee off in Round 1 at the RBC Heritage on Thursday at 8:20 a.m. off of the 10th tee.