ROCHESTER | Increasingly, the Canadians are making their mark in major major championships. After Mackenzie Hughes at the 2021 U.S. Open in Torrey Pines and Adam Hadwin at last year's Open at Brookline, it's Corey Conners' turn to climb back into the lead group. He pulled it off for a second time at the PGA of America Championship.
During windy practice rounds on a demanding course, he never thought he'd amass six birdies at the one of the four rounds of the tournament played at Oak Hill.
However, this is what the Ontarian with two professional titles achieved on Thursday. On a cold morning in western New York that required a nearly two-hour delay due to ground frost, he opened the second major championship of the season with a 67 (-3) card. ).
Officially, only Bryson DeChambeau did better at -4.
“I knew we could take advantage of a few opportunities, but I couldn't see how to get six in one round. A few elements of my game worked well, said the 31-year-old golfer, identifying his putter among other things as being responsible for this excellent score.
“I also managed several nice approaches to the pennants when I was able to play with more aggression, also indicated the one who reached 13 of the 18 greens in prescribed strokes. I was smart in the selection of my strokes and I wedged important putts. All this gives confidence. »
Challenge adjusted to your game
After a bogey from the second pennant, a birdie on the very difficult par 4 of the 6th flag nicknamed “Double Trouble ” really got the machine started. From the fairway at 214 yards, he placed his ball four inches from the cup with a sublime 5-iron shot.
Conners seems to be having fun on the daunting courses. At Kiawah Island, during the 2021 edition of this PGA of America Championship, he was in first place after the first round. On the other hand, he had slipped to 17th place in the final classification.
“ I love the type of difficult course like Oak Hill. I've been waiting to play it for a long time. It reminds me a bit of home runs. I'm familiar with the grass type, narrow fairways, long grass and small greens,” he explained.
And as a bonus, with the proximity of the border, Conners benefited from the support of the spectators. He must now continue his momentum in order to stay in the lead group.
The Canadian finds himself provisionally tied for third place with Scottie Scheffler and Dustin Johnson. With the delay caused by the frost, golfers teeed off until 4:30 p.m. without being able to finish before dark.
“Oak Hill is very difficult. I wondered how I could break par at some of these pennants, explained DeChambeau, proud of this first encouraging performance among the elite of professional golf for a long time.
“Fortunately , I managed to play solidly. I found lots of fairways and got some good putts,” said the 2020 U.S. Open winner at Winged Foot, a similar course at Oak Hill.
This time the test is different, he nuanced. If you hit the tees well and know your irons, you can do well here. Otherwise, this course can get nasty real quick if you don't hit with precision. ”
Last rays of sunshine
It was a beautiful day in the suburbs of Rochester. Having teeed off mid-afternoon, Johnson, Scott and Cole made a late push to join DeChambeau.
With four holes to go when play was stopped at around 8pm h 45, Cole had taken the lead at -5.
Thirty golfers will finish their first round early Friday morning.