Connelly hopes to recapture magical 2017 performance at this year’s British Open

Connelly hopes to recapture magical 2017 performance at this year’s British Open

The 2017 British Open was one of the best tournaments of Austin Connelly’s life, putting his young career into high gear. He’s hoping the 2019 tournament will have the same effect.

Connelly, a dual Canadian-American citizen, qualified for the 2017 Open through a four-man playoff and was in contention until the fourth round at Royal Birkdale in Southport, England before finishing in a tie for 14th. This year, he’s scuffled on the European Tour but qualified for the major at Prince’s Golf Club in Sandwich, England.

“It definitely jump-started my season back in 2017,” Connelly said on Tuesday shortly after finishing up practice at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland. “I’ve been struggling quite a bit this year, been having some problems with my golf swing. I’ve been ironing it out the last few weeks with my coach and luckily he’s here with me and we’ve been doing some great practice the last couple of days.

“It’s all shaping up. I’m actually very excited about this week and where my game’s at.”

Connelly flew into Northern Ireland on Monday morning directly from the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic in Illinois and immediately started fine-tuning his game with coach Cameron McCormick.

They worked at the range — including off the deck, in the middle of the range — that afternoon until staff at Royal Portrush asked them to leave as the course was closing down for the night. After a 12-hour, jet-lag fuelled sleep, Connelly and McCormick were back at it on Tuesday.

“Just little tiny adjustments trying to get everything synched up, to try and get it back on track,” said Connelly, who has been frustrated by his ball striking this season. The 22-year old believes that part of his driving issues come from his slight frame filling out and affecting his club speed. “I feel ready. I tee off on Thursday morning and I’m just really excited.”

Connelly, who was raised in Texas but holds Canadian citizenship thanks to his dad coming from Lake Doucette, N.S., will be joined by Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., and Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C., at the British Open. It’s the first time three Canadians have played the major since 1991 when Danny Mijovic, Rick Gibson and Jim Rutledge were in the field.

“It’s awesome, I’m really happy that Corey and Adam are here. Hopefully we can do something this week to give the Canadian fans something to cheer about,” Connelly said. “It seems like every week (on the European Tour) someone shows up wearing a Canadian hockey jersey or waving a Canadian flag.”

Rory McIlroy shot a course-record 61 at Royal Portrush in 2005 when he was just 16. Large crowds are expected for the rare time Northern Ireland gets to host the Open, with tickets selling out for the first time in the storied tournament’s 148-year history.

KORN FERRY TOUR — Michael Gligic of Burlington, Ont., secured PGA Tour membership for the 2020 season after tying for 10th on Sunday at the Colorado Championship. He’ll be back at it this week at the Pinnacle Bank Championship at The Club at Indian Creek in Omaha, Neb. He’ll be joined by Ottawa’s Brad Fritsch, Matt Hill of Sarnia, Ont., Calgary’s Ryan Yip and Toronto’s Albin Choi.

MACKENZIE TOUR — Taylor Pendrith of Richmond Hill, Ont., is seventh on the Mackenzie Tour’s Order of Merit after a second-place finish at last week’s Osprey Valley Open. He’ll be back in action this week at the HFX Pro-Am in Halifax.

LPGA TOUR — Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont., and Hamilton’s Alena Sharp have teamed up for the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational at Midland Country Golf Club in Michigan. Calgary’s Jaclyn Lee is paired with Australia’s Robyn Choi, Brittany Marchand of Orangeville, Ont., has teamed with Ecuador’s Daniela Darquea, and Quebec City’s Anne-Catherine Tanguay and Germany’s Sophia Popov are playing together.

SYMETRA TOUR — Maddie Szeryk of London, Ont., is ninth in the Symetra Tour rankings and leads a large Canadian contingent into the Danielle Downey Credit Union Classic at Brook-Lea Country Club in Rochester, N.Y., this week. She’ll be joined by 33rd-ranked Maude-Aimee Leblanc of Sherbrooke, Que., Christina Foster of Concord, Ont., Hannah Hellyer of Stirling, Ont., Casey MacNeil of Sudbury, Ont., Megan Osland of Kelowna, B.C., Samantha Richdale of Kelowna, Valerie Tanguay of St-Hyacinthe, Que., and Elizabeth Tong of Thornhill, Ont.

U.S. WOMEN’S AMATEUR OPEN — Thirteen-year-old Lauren Kim of Surrey, B.C., carded a one-over 73 on Tuesday at Seymour Golf and Country Club in North Vancouver, B.C., to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Amateur Open. Vancouver’s Nonie Marler, Angel Lin of Surrey and Hannah Lee, also from Surrey, were the other Canadians to qualify.

___

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer city council gave initial approval for more mixed-use developments in Riverside Light Industrial Park. (File photo by Advocate staff)
More industrial landowners in Red Deer are pursuing mixed-use zoning

A third of Riverside Light could become a commercial/industrial district

Central Alberta man facing second-degree murder in connection with December death.
Advocate file photo
Central Alberta man facing second-degree murder in connection with December death

Maskwacis RCMP said female found dead in Ermineskin Cree Nation residence last December

Red Deer College has been working towards obtaining university status for a couple of years. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer College’s university status back in question

Red Deer College should be worried that its university dreams could be… Continue reading

The Mountain Cree Traditional Band headquarters in Mirror, Alta. has been the target of theft and vandalism. (Photo submitted)
Vandals strike: Artifacts worth $1M gone from central Alberta museum

AWNTB says not enough been done to deter crime in Mirror, Alta.

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

Montreal Canadiens down Edmonton Oilers 3-1, sweep series

Montreal Canadiens down Edmonton Oilers 3-1, sweep series

Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (43) loses the basketball as he tries to drive around Dallas Mavericks center Willie Cauley-Stein (33) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris O'Meara
Lowry leads the way as Raptors down the Mavericks for their third straight win

Lowry leads the way as Raptors down the Mavericks for their third straight win

Johnny Gaudreau’s goal and assist paces Flames to 5-2 victory over Canucks

Johnny Gaudreau’s goal and assist paces Flames to 5-2 victory over Canucks

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, on Dec. 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Tory MP Sloan accuses party of hypocrisy over efforts to have him expelled

Tory MP Sloan accuses party of hypocrisy over efforts to have him expelled

FILE - In this Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019 file photo Britain's Andy Murray reacts during a press conference following his first round loss to Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia. Former world number one Murray's participation at the upcoming Australian Open is in doubt after the Briton tested positive for COVID-19. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)
Australian Open arrivals hit by 3 COVID-19 positive tests

Australian Open arrivals hit by 3 COVID-19 positive tests

Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Mitchell Marner (16) scores on an empty net and takes a hit from Winnipeg Jets defenceman Neal Pionk (4) during third period of action in Toronto on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Toronto Maple Leafs ride dominant second period to down Winnipeg Jets 3-1

Toronto Maple Leafs ride dominant second period to down Winnipeg Jets 3-1

Roman Sadovsky wins the Challenge, his only event of the figure skating season

Roman Sadovsky wins the Challenge, his only event of the figure skating season

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, left, speaks with International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel during their meeting in Minsk, Belarus, Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. (Nikolai Petrov/BelTA Pool Photo via AP)
IIHF pulls hockey worlds from Belarus, seeks new host

IIHF pulls hockey worlds from Belarus, seeks new host

Most Read