For the first time in some time, Corey Conners walked off the 72nd hole of a tournament feeling good about his game.
Conners played a stellar final round at the Zozo Championship, posting a six-under 66 that included a front-nine 30. That left him tied for eighth, behind eventual winner Patrick Cantlay.
“I have a lot of positives to take away from the last few days,” said Conners. “I played relaxed golf, which I was happy with.”
On Sunday, he made six birdies on the opening nine and climbed as high as third on the leaderboard at one point. He cooled off on the more difficult back nine, making two birdies and two bogeys, including one on the final hole.
His laser-like precision off the tee and into the green was on full display for the week as he hit 41 of 52 fairways and 53 of 72 greens. His putter also co-operated and he was 14th in Strokes Gained: Putting. About the only part of his game with which he was disappointed was his ability to finish off the rounds. He was 12 under on the front nine for the week and just six under on the back nine, which includes three par 5s.
The finish was the first top 10 for the Listowel, Ont., product since last year’s Zozo Championship. In the interim, he’s had some good finishes but he’s also been somewhat inconsistent for a player whose forte is consistency.
“I’ve felt good the last few starts,” he stated. “But the results haven’t shown. I’ve been patiently waiting.”
Conners missed the cut in four of his last nine starts including at both the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship. He chalked up the mediocre play to poor decision-making, where he makes a mess of what should be an easy hole.
“When I come off a round, I’ll ask myself ‘What were you thinking there?’” he stated. “It can really be frustrating. I would make a mess of a par 5 or make a bad club selection. I wasn’t winning the momentum battles.”
But a solid finish such as he had this week in Los Angeles can go a long way towards rebuilding some confidence.
Conners will take next week off and then head to the Houston Open to get his game ready for the Masters where he’ll make his third appearance.
“I feel like I know the course now and I have a good game plan,” he said, adding that he expects the course to play a little softer than usual.
He’s also looking forward to the Tuesday round with fellow Canadians Adam Hadwin, Nick Taylor and Mike Weir. This year’s Masters will be just the second time four Canadians have played in the Green Jacket major.