Corey Conners, of Canada, watches his tee shot on the 16th hole during the final round of The Players Championship golf tournament on March 14, 2021, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, John Raoux

Canada’s Corey Conners eager to try match play again at WGC event

Canada’s Corey Conners eager to try match play again at WGC event

It’s been a while since Corey Conners has played in a match-play event, but he thinks he has enough experience to draw on.

Conners, from Listowel, Ont., will be one of two Canadians in the field on Wednesday when the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play event tees off. He told reporters on Monday that he would rely on his experience at the U.S. Amateur Championship in 2014 for this week’s tournament.

“It’s a format I’ve had some success with in the past,” said Conners, who was runner-up to Gunn Yang seven years ago at the U.S. Amateur, which uses match play to decide its champion after two rounds of stroke play.

“Being really steady I think is something I think I’m good at but I think that translates really well into success at match play.”

Conners has qualified for WGC events seven times since turning pro but didn’t get to play in the 2020 match play event — what would have been his first on the PGA Tour — because it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Qualifying for WGC events are an indication that you’re playing at an elite level, said Conners.

“You’ve obviously done something really well to be here, on the world stage, they’re world-class events, the top players in the world,” said Conners. “I’ve been fortunate to play in a number over the past few seasons and hopefully I can continue with that.”

Conners said that he’s eager to play the Austin Country Club in the state capital of Texas. He believes that it will lend itself well to the tournament’s match-play format.

“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun to play this week,” said Conners. “The greens stood out to me as being really challenging.

“There’s a lot of slope on the greens and it will be important to get yourself in the right spots on the green to give yourself a chance at birdie.”

Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont., is the other Canadian in the field this week at the WGC event. As the two top Canadians in the world rankings, No. 40 Conners and No. 53 Hughes are the current frontrunners to represent their country at the Tokyo Olympics this summer. Strong performances from Adam Hadwin (No 86) and Nick Taylor (No. 123), both from Abbotsford, B.C., could put either of them in the mix, however.

“It’s something I’ve definitely been thinking of but I’m just trying to focus on playing good golf and that will be a nice reward if I can continue to do what I’ve been doing,” said Conners.

David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., Michael Gligic of Burlington, Ont., Taylor Pendrith of Richmond Hill, Ont., and Roger Sloan of Merritt, B.C., will be competing in the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship this week. It tees off on Thursday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 23, 2021.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press

Golf

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