THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, folks. We'd like to welcome our first of our U.S. Amateur semifinalists, Corey Conners of Canada, who defeated Neil Raymond, the co‑medalist from England 5 & 3 in this morning's first quarterfinals match. Corey, I'm sure it's a good feeling for you to advance to the semifinals of the U.S. Amateur, but if you could just sum up what you thought was your strong point in the match today.
COREY CONNERS: Just made a lot of smart decisions and hit the ball really solidly. I was always on the correct side of the hole. There's some treacherous greens out here, and it's really important to have yourself in good positions because you can be not that far from the pin but in nearly impossible places. I hit a lot of really solid shots. My ball‑striking was good, drove the ball great, but yeah, just lots of smart decisions, and gave myself lots of chances, but easy pars basically.
THE MODERATOR: I spoke to Neil Raymond earlier and he said that you played very smartly. You left yourself a lot of long chips, whenever you missed you were on the correct side of the hole. That was part of your game plan I'm sure.
COREY CONNERS: Yeah, it definitely was. You can look kind of silly out there if you get on the wrong side of the hole. Sometimes the best chip might be 30 or 40 feet away. But if you leave yourself with uphill shots, you're always going to have a chance to get it close, and I was able to do that, and I did hit some really nice chips and pitches when I was below the hole to give myself nice looks at par.
Q. On the first hole your approach shot went far into the left, tough to come back and bogey. Did you kind of look at that moment and say let's get our head together here, because you talked about playing smart throughout the rest of the course. Was that the hole where you hit yourself upside the head?
COREY CONNERS: Yeah, basically. I had good intentions for the shot anyways, to leave the ball left of the pin, and was hoping to be right in the middle of the green below the hole, but just kind of pulled my iron shot, and it flew way further than I was anticipating. So yeah, that kind of got me in the mindset make sure I'm sort of extra careful, but still wanted to be aggressive, not too tentative.
Q. How has your performance this week compared with your expectations coming into the tournament?
COREY CONNERS: I definitely had really high expectations coming into the tournament. My game has been really solid all summer. I had a good feeling about my ball‑striking. My short game has been really solid. So I had high expectations. The first goal was basically to get into the match play, and I haven't had a whole lot of success in the match play format in the past, but I knew if I just trusted myself and played my own game that I could definitely go all the way.
I expected myself to play very well, and I'm pretty proud of the way that I've played so far.
Q. It was all square at the turn and then you won the next five holes in a row. Did your game improve or just get down to it? What turned it around?
COREY CONNERS: Well, making the turn, 9 through basically 14 are all really, really difficult holes, so I hit a lot of really solid, smart shots and left myself in nice places, as I said before, always below the hole. Yeah, was just able to basically make pars on those holes by hitting solid shots, and fortunately for me, I guess, my opponent got himself in a couple tough spots, and I was able to win some holes with pars.
Q. Going back to that stretch where Neil had the series of bogeys, in your mindset for that stretch, are you thinking to yourself you still have to just play smart, not try and overpower the course, or do you say I have to go for it and turn the match around?
COREY CONNERS: Yeah, it's tough to do that, to have that balance, because you kind of want to keep your foot down on the pedal, but you have to be smart, and I just didn't really try to do anything special, just stick to my game plan. I didn't really change my approach to any of the shots as I normally would have, I guess, just tried to stick to my game plan and just do my thing.
I'm usually not overly aggressive, usually make smart decisions, so just kept trying to do that.
Q. When you got to the ninth tee, knowing how difficult that stretch is, do you say, bear down a little bit, extra focus, or did you do anything like that to yourself before you started 9?
COREY CONNERS: I guess a little bit. Everyone knows the difficulty of those holes, so yeah, I was getting ‑‑ yeah, I guess fine‑tuning my focus a little bit, making sure I was really sharp. Yeah, it's important to not make any errors on those holes, I guess, or it's easy to just give away the hole.
Q. What do you know about Matt Fitzpatrick?
COREY CONNERS: Not a whole lot. He's obviously a great player to be in this position. I know both of us played at the Open, I believe, but yeah, other than that I don't know much about him.
Q. Tell me just a little bit about where you grew up and how you got started with golf.
COREY CONNERS: I grew up in Listowel, Ontario, in southwestern Ontario in Canada. Got started playing golf, my dad introduced me to the game when I was four or five years old, and always was pretty good at it and really took a liking to it at a young age and played a ton of golf growing up throughout the summers. But yeah, my dad basically introduced me to the game. His whole family has played golf for a long time.
Q. Did you play hockey?
COREY CONNERS: I did play hockey, yeah, all through my childhood right until I went to University, until I was 18, played for a couple different teams.
Q. You talked a little bit about expectations. When you were little were there any Canadian golfers that you idolized?
COREY CONNERS: Definitely Mike Weir and watching him at the Masters in 2003. I remember his final putt, I couldn't even watch the TV I was so excited. So yeah, he's obviously ‑‑ the success he's had has to be the big idol.
THE MODERATOR: Corey, congratulations. Well played. We'll talk to you tomorrow.