CREEK, Ga. – Having recently earned a bachelor of science degree in actuarial science
from Kent State University in Ohio, Corey Conners already has established a
career path filled with mathematical possibilities.
don’t know what I’m going to do. I hope I’m counting numbers on a scorecard,”
Conners said with a grin adorning his tanned, perspiring face.
sweating out a mid-round stumble Thursday afternoon in a third-round match in
the U.S. Amateur, the Canadian standout has at least one more day to keep track
of strokes at Atlanta Athletic Club.
late, he’s had a lot of practice in this championship.
advancing to the semifinals a year ago at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.,
Conners reached the quarterfinals of the 114th Amateur at AAC by dispatching
Spain’s Jon Rahm 3 and 1.
guess I like match play,” said Conners, who improved to 7-1 in this
championship the past two years.
who lost to eventual champion Matthew Fitzpatrick last year, next faces Zachary
Olsen of Cordova, Tenn., at 11:40 a.m. Friday in the third of four quarterfinal
matches. Olsen defeated Will Zalatoris of Plano, Texas, 5 and 3.
of wild swings starting on the inward nine highlighted the battle between
Conners and Rahm. With four birdies on the front, Conners, who never trailed,
steadily built a 3-up lead at the turn only to see it evaporate with three
bogeys in a four-hole stretch. Rahm sank a 10-footer for par at the 13th that brought
the match to all square for the only time.
Conners, of Listowel, Ontario, immediately jumped back in front when Rahm
encountered trouble off the tee at 14 and had to lay up on his second shot from
a buried lie in a bunker. Conners took dead aim and his short approach with a
pitching wedge stopped 5 feet behind the hole. Although Rahm saved par, Conners
converted the birdie.
felt like that was definitely the most important part [of the match],” said
Conners, who carried his own bag the first few rounds but enlisted Kent State
and Canadian National teammate Taylor Pendrith, who fell in the first round of
match play after tying for eighth at 4-under 139 in stroke-play qualifying.
long par-3 15th, Rahm again misfired while Conners got up and down from just
left of the green. Rahm, after putting from a collection area right of the green,
pushed his 5-foot par attempt to fall 2 down.
match ended on 17 when Rahm missed a 12-foot birdie putt and then conceded
Conners’ birdie look from 8 feet.
playing like Seve today a little bit,” chuckled Rahm, 19, who returns to
Arizona State next week for his third year. “My short game kept me close, but
Corey deserved to win. He played solid, especially there towards the end, and I
made some mistakes. My driver let me down, and it had been a strength all
said the key to his play this week has simply been preparation. “I have a great
game plan, and I am playing well,” he said. “I am getting more and more comfortable
on this course. I don’t want to change a thing that I’m doing right now.
just want to keep it simple and stick to my game plan.”
Dave Shedloski is an Ohio-based
freelance writer who writes frequently for USGA websites.