Conners keeps it as stress-free as possible for PGA lead

Conners keeps it as stress-free as possible for PGA lead

GLF-PGA-Championship, 1st Writethru

code:4

Update:UPRANKS

See Photos 20210520200524-60a6fdb1d8ad3f3ef7f731efjpeg, 20210520130528-60a69c3dd8ad3f3ef7f70229jpeg, 2021052018054-60a6dd37d8ad3f3ef7f7250djpeg, 20210520160528-60a6c67fd8ad3f3ef7f7180bjpeg, 20210520160528-60a6c682d8ad3f3ef7f7180cjpeg, 20210520190552-60a6f6fed8ad3f3ef7f73075jpeg, 20210520160528-60a6c684d8ad3f3ef7f7180djpeg, 20210520160528-60a6c686d8ad3f3ef7f7180ejpeg, 20210520160512-60a6c2a562fa4fe6d2f603b7jpeg, 20210520160528-60a6c688d8ad3f3ef7f7180fjpeg, 20210520200524-60a6fdb6d8ad3f3ef7f731f0jpeg, 20210520160528-60a6c689d8ad3f3ef7f71810jpeg, 20210520160528-60a6c68bd8ad3f3ef7f71811jpeg, 20210520160528-60a6c68dd8ad3f3ef7f71812jpeg, 20210520160528-60a6c68fd8ad3f3ef7f71813jpeg, 20210520160528-60a6c691d8ad3f3ef7f71814jpeg, 20210520160528-60a6c693d8ad3f3ef7f71815jpeg, 20210520160528-60a6c695d8ad3f3ef7f71816jpeg, 20210520200524-60a6fdbad8ad3f3ef7f731f1jpeg, 20210520200524-60a6fdbcd8ad3f3ef7f731f2jpeg, 20210520200524-60a6fdbed8ad3f3ef7f731f3jpeg

INDEX: Sports

HL:Conners keeps it as stress-free as possible for PGA lead

By Doug Ferguson

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — Amid the wind and the havoc at Kiawah Island, there was a semblance of simplicity to the way Corey Conners navigated his way around the Ocean Course for a 5-under 67 and a two-shot lead Thursday in the PGA Championship.

He birdied all the par 5s. He made a couple of long putts for birdie. He dropped only one shot. The scorecard alone made it look like a walk on the beach.

It just didn’t feel that way.

“I’d say it’s impossible to be stress-free around this golf course,” Conners said. “You can’t fall asleep out there on any holes. It’s very challenging. I was fortunate to have a good day. Made it as least stressful as possible on myself.”

With a stiff wind into his face for his last five holes, the 29-year-old Canadian played the tough closing stretch in 2 under, one of those birdies a 55-foot putt from just short of the green.

He led by two shots over a half-dozen players. That group included Brooks Koepka, who started his day with a double bogey and stayed largely out of trouble the rest of the way and Cameron Davis, who overcame a triple bogey on the sixth hole.

Keegan Bradley, Viktor Hovland, Aaron Wise and Sam Horsfield also were at 69. The seven players to break 70 were the fewest for the opening round of the PGA Championship since there were five at Hazeltine in 2002.

“I definitely knew in my preparation that it was possible to have a decent round out here and shoot a 5-, 6-under par round,” Conners said. “So kind of started the day thinking, `Why not me?’ There’s birdies to be had.”

No one needed them like Koepka, a major presence when conditions are severe. One hole into this major, he had reason to be more worried about his brain than his ailing right knee.

His opening tee shot on the 10th hole at Kiawah Island was struck poorly and didn’t quite clear a waste area. Koepka tried to do too much from a soft lie in the sand and barely got it out. It led to a double bogey, and the toughest part of the Ocean Course was still to come.

But this is a major, and this is Koepka, and that’s when he’s at his best. He knuckled down from that mess by running off six birdies the rest of the way.

“You can’t do that stuff if you want to win. You’ve just got to be more focused,” said Koepka, who has played only twice in the last three months because of surgery to repair ligaments in his knee. “I don’t know if that’s a lack of not playing or what. It was just stupid. I was able to recover, I guess.”

So did 50-year-old Phil Mickelson, who had four bogeys through six holes and nothing but birdies and pars the rest of the way to join the large group at 70 that included defending champion Collin Morikawa and former U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland.

More telling were those on the other side of par, some of whom will be scrambling to make it to the weekend.

Dustin Johnson, the No. 1 player in the world in the midst of his worst stretch in nearly two years, took a double bogey from a wild tee shot on the front nine and a double bogey on the 18th for a 76. He’s in jeopardy of missing the cut in consecutive majors in the same year for the first time in his career.

Justin Thomas took double bogey on the 18th hole in the morning and two holes later sent a sand shot over the green and just into a hazard for another 6 on the par-5 second. He had a 75.

Rory McIlroy, coming off a victory at Quail Hollow two weeks ago, sent his opening tee shot into a water hazard. He salvaged a bogey, but certainly not his round. McIlroy made bogey on three of the par 5s for a 75, his worst start ever in a PGA Championship.

Jordan Spieth, who needs a victory to complete the career Grand Slam, shot 73.

The PGA of America moved up tee boxes, as expected, to account for the wind. The course played to 7,660 yards — 178 yards shorter than the scorecard — though that didn’t make it easy. Thomas, for one, still hit 7-wood into the 214-yard 17th.

John Daly was among 12 players who shot in the 80s. On the 30-year anniversary of his PGA Championship victory at Crooked Stick, he shot 85.

There were birdies to be had, and mistakes to be made, and Martin Laird was example of both. So wild was his round that he he made bogey on No. 12, ran off four straight birdies and then closed with two bogeys. That added to a 70, not a bad day’s work.

“I kind of went out with the mindset this week, even though it’s hard, don’t give the course too much respect,” Laird said. “You still have to take on shots when you have the chance. When I had a spot where I could go at the flag, I was making sure I kept doing it and hit a lot of really nice shots and managed to make some birdies.

“You’re going to hit bogeys on this golf course,” he said. “It’s nice when you can throw in a bunch of birdies, too.”

Finally heeled from a left knee injury, Koepka injured ligaments in his right knee in March and has played only twice since then, the Masters and last week in Dallas.

He began with a poor 3-wood on No. 10 that didn’t clear the waste area. He took on too much with a soft lie in the sand and barely got it out, leading to a double bogey. But he didn’t flinch and had few complaints about his start.

“It’s a major. I’m going to show up. I’m ready to play,” he said. “I love it when it’s difficult. I think that’s why I do so well in the majors. I just know mentally I can grind it out.”

———

More AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Golf

Just Posted

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives at the 2021 budget in Edmonton on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta launches COVID vaccine lottery with million-dollar prizes to encourage uptake

The premier says the lottery will offer three prizes worth $1 million a piece, as well as other prizes

Dharmesh Goradia, and his daughter Vidhi and wife Chaitali, at the 2017 festival for the Godess Durga, held at the Golden Circle. (Photo contributed)
Draft curriculum misses the mark for central Alberta Hindu society

Meeting scheduled with Alberta Education officials

Air Canada planes sit on the tarmac at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. Air Canada says it will recall more than 2,600 employees who were furloughed during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Alberta’s tourism sector hurt by COVID-19 pandemic: ATB Financial

Between border closures, public health measures and hesitancy to travel, Alberta’s tourism… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

A man wears a face mask as he walks by a sign for a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, May 16, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Canada paid a premium to get doses from Pfizer earlier than planned

OTTAWA — Canada paid a premium to get more than 250,000 doses… Continue reading

The Kamloops Indian Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., is shown in this 1930 handout photo. HO — Deschatelets-NDC Archives
Calls grow for Ottawa to review settlement decisions for residential school survivors

Lawyer Teri Lynn Bougie still cries when she talks about the final… Continue reading

Syringes are readied at a COVID-19 mobile vaccination clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, Friday, April 30, 2021 in Montreal. Most of the federal contracts for COVID-19 vaccines allow for Canada to donate some of its doses to other countries or international aid organizations and in at least three cases, for the doses to be resold.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada’s vaccine contracts allow for doses to be donated, in some cases resold

OTTAWA — Most of the federal contracts for COVID-19 vaccines allow for… Continue reading

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, responds to the report on the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, in Vancouver, on Monday June 3, 2019. As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Two sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

VANCOUVER — As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after… Continue reading

A woman sits and weeps at the scene of Sunday's hate-motivated vehicle attack in London, Ont. on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. Four members of a family in London, Ont., are set to be buried today. The public has been invited to help celebrate the lives of Talat Afzaal, 74, her son Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, and their 15-year-old daughter Yumna Salman.THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Geoff Robins
Funeral to be held today for London family killed in attack

LONDON, Ont. — Four members of a Muslim family killed in what… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden listen to United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson deliver opening remarks at a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, United Kingdom Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau to discuss foreign policy with G7 leaders at second day of summit meeting

CARBIS BAY, CORNWALL, ENGLAND — Foreign policy is on the agenda for… Continue reading

Most Read