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August 17, 2014

Corey Conners


PETE KOWALSKI: Runner-up in the U.S. Amateur Championship, Corey Conners, tough match, 2 & 1 was the decision. Give us your initial thoughts and then we'll take some questions. Just an assessment of the match to start.

COREY CONNERS: Yeah, it was a long day, fun match. Pretty tough fought. It was hard to win holes. Birdies are hard to come by out here, and Gunn played fantastic golf. Didn't really offer me many opportunities to take holes from him. Yeah, it was fun. We were close all day. Don't think I ever had the lead but hung in there pretty well, and never let the lead get too big. Could have made some more putts to make me a little happier, but yeah, I played good, especially towards the end. Hit some lovely shots and wasn't able to get it done.

PETE KOWALSKI: Which putts in particular would you say were critical that you didn't make?

COREY CONNERS: The putt that I had kind of later on in the match on hole 13, our approaches were side-by-side, so I had a pretty good idea of the line that I needed to hit the putt on from watching his. Just hit it a little bit too hard and didn't take the break. Made the same mistake. I noticed he hit his through the last break at the end, and I was trying to hit mine a little bit softer so it would make the break and just hit it a little too hard. Would have been nice to make after a nice birdie that I made on 12 would have got some momentum going for me, and it would have squared the match with five holes left. Then the last few holes, I hit some nice putts. On 16, rolled it pretty well but just kept breaking on me and 17, same thing. I'm just happy with the putt I hit. Just broke a little more than I wanted. Just wasn't meant to be.

PETE KOWALSKI: The medal around your neck means you advance one step further than last year. Not to say consolation prize, but how does that feel?

COREY CONNERS: Yeah, it feels great, and I know looking back on last year, how special of a week it was and I'm sure it will be the same thing this week. Pretty proud and happy with my play and was an exciting week.

PETE KOWALSKI: How would you assess Gunn's play today?

COREY CONNERS: It was really solid. He struck the ball great. He made a lot of key putts when he needed to and yeah, didn't really have any weaknesses out there. Didn't give me any openings to climb through.

Q. Great run for two years in a row. The preparation you made obviously built your game up for a very big week two years running.
COREY CONNERS: Basically, work all summer long. This is the hallmark event, the end of the summer. So just playing in events all summer, just keep fine tuning the game. Both summers I played really well, and just kept getting better with my game and yeah, just shaped up nicely at the right time. So that was good. The golf courses that this championship is held at are usually very difficult, and I think my game is a little stronger against other people on the difficult golf courses because I strike the ball pretty solidly, hit it straight and I don't mean make too many mental mistakes. So I like the harder golf courses where you don't necessarily have to make a lot of birdies but avoid bogeys.

Q. But you didn't work on any particular part of your game; nothing that you said, I need to do this so play well in the Amateur?
COREY CONNERS: The short game is important. Last year I worked really hard on my short game, chipping, just all type of shots around the greens. The same thing this year, I had just been working on my short game a lot through the summer. It's important. It can save you lots of shots.

Q. You mentioned that Gunn didn't give you many opportunities for doors to open. Was there any time during this match where you felt like you let an opportunity slip?
COREY CONNERS: Yeah, there was a few. I mean, I had a lot of -- especially the second round, I had a lot of looks for birdie. Nice look on No. 9. Yeah, there's, I don't know, a bunch of birdie tries. I thought I hit nice putts. They just slipped by and that was kind of frustrating not to have any of those drop and win some holes. Yeah, I can't remember, too many -- No. 9, made it on 10. No. 11, right after the rain delay coming back, lipped-out there. Hit a really nice putt. And any of those would have been nice to make.

Q. I'm curious what your thought process was, by not turning pro, after the NCAAs in June and now if you do intend to honor the exemptions next year, what you'll do for the next eight or nine months.
COREY CONNERS: Yeah, so the decision to turn pro -- or to not turn pro after the NCAA season was over was pretty easy. I had been a part of the Canadian national team for years, and just wanted to continue using the resources that they have available, unbelievable coaching and guidance. Yeah, just wanted to take advantage of that for another summer I guess. And also the World Am is coming up in a few weeks in Japan and wanted another crack at playing in that. I played in Turkey in 2012 and that was an awesome experience and wanted to play for Canada again, so that was big in my decision making. And then, yeah, the next eight or nine months, I'm not too sure what's going to happen. I have some planning to do. But yeah, I don't know, I haven't really thought about that too much.

Q. What do you think of Gunn, a guy ranked 776 in the world, dropped out of a tournament three weeks ago; did it catch you off guard to see what he did this week, kind of coming out of nowhere?
COREY CONNERS: I knew he obviously reached the final match, so I knew he had played some good golf, and I expected him to be really solid. So, I don't know, I've never heard of him before I guess, but didn't really surprise me. There's lots of good players out there, and he obviously had a great week.

Q. Your ultimate aspirations are to turn pro eventually?
COREY CONNERS: Yeah, absolutely. It's been a dream of mine to play on the PGA TOUR. I got a taste of it playing in the Canadian Open a couple times and a couple TOUR events and it's definitely where I want to be. Looking forward to the process of trying to get up there.

Q. How have these experiences, playing in the Amateur and playing so well, how does that set you up in your mind-set for being a professional golfer?
COREY CONNERS: Yeah, it gives me a lot of confidence going forward to know that I've done the best I could in amateur golf pretty much and have had a lot of success. So feel like I'm ready to transition forward, and, yeah, just keep fine tuning the game a little bit.

PETE KOWALSKI: Tremendous week, you've been very cooperative and we wish you all the success. You've had a great week and it's a pleasure to have you as the U.S. Amateur runner-up. Thank you.
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