11 April 2019: Corey Conners is on a real roll. A week ago, the Canadian was in the thick of a six-for-one playoff in a Monday qualifier desperately looking for a bib to play in the Valero Texas Open. Not only did he come through that, but he also made his way to Augusta National by winning the title last week. Conners was in the first group on Thursday, soon after Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus kicked off the 83rd Masters. By lunchtime, Conners was back in the clubhouse at 2-under, tied with the tenacious Justin Harding, Tommy Fleetwood, Gary Woodland and Patton Kizzire, with the chasing pack still on the course.
An eagle on the par-5 15th hole helped Conners move into the early lead at the Masters. A brilliant 320-yard tee-shot flowing down the middle of the fairway set up his biggest gain on the day. A 212-yard approach left him just 8 feet and he made the eagle to climb into the lead. He was on the green in two on the final hole, but his putt from about 46 feet flew past the flag and the three-putt bogey put him back in the group at 2-under par.
On a brilliant spring day in this southern city of Augusta, the mysteries of this iconic course and the first-day jitters accounted for a slow start as yet another chapter of history began finding its script on these pristine meadows.
After a relatively damaging front nine, where bogeys at three and seven were buttressed with a birdie at the par-3 sixth hole, Corey made the turn in 37 strokes.
“It’s been crazy. A lot of positive things have been happening and I’m really excited just to be here and trying to really enjoy the experience,” said Conners about the past week or so that has turned his world into a whirlwind of opportunity.
He caught fire at the par-5 13th hole. He went birdie-birdie-eagle to gain four strokes off the course, straight out of the much-feared Amen Corner. The Canadian made 15 of the 18 greens in regulation while making 11 of 14 fairways off the tee.
Despite the bogey at the final hole, Conners could come inside in 70 to enjoy his meal with the clubhouse lead on his bag.