08 April 2019: If you could script a fairytale, you couldn’t do it any better. Just a week ago, Corey Conners was working the Monday qualifiers to try and gain entry into the Valero Texas Open. It was the week before the Masters and you could safely assume that Conners was concerned more with livelihood than a ticket to the first major of the season.
Conners was the last of four qualifiers to squeeze into the main event from a field of 73 aspirants, making four under 68 last Monday. A week later, his first PGA TOUR victory in the bag, he was taking a private jet to Augusta to make his professional debut at the Masters. He was in Augusta as an amateur in 2015, when he missed the cut.
Not just that, he has earned himself a two-year stint on the PGA TOUR and will feature in each of the four majors this season. That is pretty cool for a journeyman pro living life week to week. And yeah, do not forget that credit in the bank account – the winner took home $1.35mn for the title.
Conners will be the 87th and last entry into the 83rd edition of the Masters.
Monday qualifiers have become a habit for Corey Conners. It was his third event to which he qualified this season through a solid round on Monday, from six attempts. The first signs of an uptick in his game at the Sony Open in Hawaii where he made 64-64 on the weekend to finish in third place.
In winning the Texas Open, he emulates Arjun Atwal, who was the last Monday Qualifier to win the title. The Indian did so at the Wyndham Championship in 2010. His victory also brought back memories of Paul Stankowski’s cinderella run into the Masters in 1996. Paul had won a Web.com Tour event in Louisiana and the Atlanta PGA Tour event the next week to earn a Masters spot.
Conners is also joining a bunch of golfers who have taken the Houston road to Augusta. D.A. Points (2013), Matt Jones (2014), Jim Herman (2016), Russell Henley (2017) and Ian Poulter (2018) pulled off the same trick as Conners, making him the sixth in seven years to punch a Masters ticket in Houston.
“I know (Augusta National) really well, I played a lot of rounds preparing for that event,” Conners said. “So I haven’t really thought too much about it, but really excited to get back there. It’s a place I think I can play really well. Pretty comfortable turning the ball right to left and that’s, I think, pretty important out there, the predominant shot shape that you need.”
Conners’ earlier Masters appearance came in 2015 on the strength of a runner-up finish at the 2014 U.S. Amateur. He shot 80-69 to miss the cut, playing alongside fellow Canadian Mike Weir, the 2013 Masters champion.
Conners is a former Kent State golfer who earned a degree in actuary math at the Ohio university. Last October, he finished second at the Sanderson Farms Championship on the PGA Tour for his best previous career finish.
List of winners in the week before to also win the Masters
1939, Ralph Guldahl, Greensboro and Masters
1949, Sam Snead, Greensboro and Masters
1959, Art Wall, Azalea Open and Masters
1988, Sandy Lyle, Greensboro and the Masters
2006, Phil Mickelson, Atlanta and the Masters.