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March 9, 2018

Corey Conners

Palm Harbor, Florida

JACK RYAN: We'd like to welcome our 36 hole leader at the Valspar Championship, Corey Conners.

Corey, back to back rounds in the 60s to start this tournament. How would you assess your play going into this week?

COREY CONNERS: Obviously been very good. Happy with everything in the game. I think the biggest thing that's helped me is having the ball in play and give myself chances to attack some of the pins whenever that is possible.

Just haven't really gone into too much trouble and that's definitely a big key at this golf course, keep things simple. Hit as many fairways and greens as possible and made some birdies.

JACK RYAN: We'll take some questions out here.

Q. Not to start this thing really dumb, but what club did you hit in on 7?
COREY CONNERS: That was a gap wedge at 133, kind a good number for a full, solid gap wedge.

Q. Looks like it went 132 1/2.

Q. Just talk about being in contention and having somebody like Tiger Woods two shots back when you might not have even been in this tournament, you know, Monday and then here you are?
COREY CONNERS: Really happy to be in the position I am and to be here, first of all. Yeah, really excited. Kind of a new position for me but what I work for and looking forward to a fun weekend.

It will be a challenge but I feel like I'm up to it and feel good about my game.

Q. You got two rounds to go. What were you doing last year when Adam won this and how well do you know Adam and have you got any inspiration or things like that from Adam?
COREY CONNERS: Got to know him a little bit better since turning professional. I don't remember exactly where I was, playing on the Web.com Tour, might have been traveling for that. But definitely got some inspiration from him.

Obviously some good, positive Canadian energy around this place. There's a lot of Canadian fans as well. I can see how he's kind of carried to victory last year.

Q. What, if any, are your previous interactions with Tiger?
COREY CONNERS: Yeah, nothing. Just going to watch and admired him. First time I was close to him I guess was the Masters in 2015, watch him hit balls. I haven't interacted with him.

Q. Were you paying attention at all to the scores from the morning wave, specifically Tiger before you went off for your round today?
COREY CONNERS: Not particularly. I did see -- I was warming up on the putting green when he finished off No. 9 and saw that he was 4-under and yeah, wasn't really too worried about the scores.

As we were going along out there, got off to a nice start, felt like I was probably in the lead but so what? Lot of holes to play. So, I'm in good position. Wasn't really too worried about what the other guys were doing?

Q. I think we talked to you yesterday about the Monday qualifier, you were packing up when you got the message you're in the field.
What were you going to do this week if you didn't get in?

COREY CONNERS: My grandparents spend sometime on this Coast, little bit south of Tampa and I was going to go and visit them for a couple days and drive back to Palm Beach if I didn't get in the field.

Practice, I guess, maybe take a little time to work on things or keep things sharp. But, yeah, I wasn't really sure. Kind of the mindset of Monday qualifier I was going to play well there and qualify. I hoped to play. I ended up getting in the field.

Q. How long after you finished your Monday qualifier did you -- before you got the call? Did you get it while you were playing?
COREY CONNERS: As soon as I got in the car I just looked at my phone and saw some messages and saw there was a message that I was first alternate from a few hours before and then got the call immediately saying you just moved into the field.

Q. Call or text?

Q. Some other things I wanted to ask you Corey but if not this week, next would have been what, Dominican?
COREY CONNERS: Dominican the next one.

Q. Two things. When you were putting, did you see Tiger Woods come off the 9th and did you see a small Army following him? What was that like?
COREY CONNERS: Yeah. I definitely saw that. I've seen that the last few days as well. Yeah. Pretty cool. Hopefully I can be in a position where I get some followers Sunday as well. That would be cool.

Q. Secondly, can you walk us through 4 and I guess the reason I would ask on 4 is that seems like you just kept everything in front of you so beautifully for 30-odd holes, to have a double all of a sudden on your card, was it easy to get right back into it going to 5 tee?
COREY CONNERS: Yeah. Obviously not the result I was looking for on that hole. Just kind of blocked a 7-iron a little bit. I was trying to kind of take a little bit off of it but get it still turning over with the wind. Pushed it a little right. Plugged in the bunker.

Hit a really sweet shot in there to give myself a putt for par and got a little greedy maybe. I like -- saw the line pretty well on that putt and yeah, tried to roll it in maybe a little bit too aggressive and maybe four and a half feet by and kind of didn't hit a great second putt and ended up with a double.

But, something that I feel like I've always been good at is getting over that pretty quickly and just on 5 tee and started thinking about how I was going to attack that hole and get a shot back or give myself a chance for birdie.

Q. Were you looking at the leaderboard at all?
The reason I ask that as well as you were playing especially on the back, was there any part of you that was thinking man, let's see what kind of separation I can get here?

COREY CONNERS: I think I saw the leaderboard on when I was on No. 3, I think, somebody Kelly Kraft might have been -5 at that point. I was at 7. Yeah.

Well, playing good. See if we can stretch it out a little bit and give myself a bit of a cushion. That double but still finished well and happy with things.

Q. What's the craziest environment you ever played in terms of number of fans watching and noise level, things like that?
COREY CONNERS: Couple at the U.S. amateur final match in the Atlanta Athletic Club in 2014. The fans got really close to you so they're kind of running all around.

Other than that, the Masters I guess, the fans aren't as rowdy there, they're more respectful. Lot of them. Still feel playing in front of a lot of people.

Q. How do you expect that to compare to tomorrow playing in the final group with Tiger so close?
COREY CONNERS: Yeah, it will be a fun experience. The nice thing is there's a ton of Canadian fans. I think this is an important winter destination for Canadians. I've been feeling a lot of Canadian love out there and yeah, looking forward to more of that and I think it will be a lot of fun.

Q. Corey, it was a nice walk around the golf course today. Beautiful venue. Tiger said that you have to pick your spots out there and trust your game. Par is a reward.
I know the fellas mentioned that sometimes you hit a spinning iron shot that buries in the bunker and you get a little wound up and greedy on the putt.

You came right back. I watched your demeanor. You seemed to stay in the moment. Do you feel like you stayed shot by shot throughout the game?

COREY CONNERS: Yeah, definitely. That's a big focus. I think a lot of people just take it one shot at a time and definitely important to pick your times when you can be aggressive and then know when to back off a little bit and play a little safer.

Q. Had you ever had played the Copperhead before this week?
COREY CONNERS: No. One practice round on Tuesday, yeah, tried to take as many notes as possible and figure out how to tackle it and I think I did a pretty good job with that and just watched on, TV kind of remembered some of the holes coming down the end of the Snake Pit, 16, 17, 18.

Q. What was your winter destination as a kid? Did you guys have one?
COREY CONNERS: I don't know. We come to Florida a little bit. I remember some trips to Florida when I was on the Canadian Development Junior Team. Go to Port St. Lucie a lot and PGA Village and practice there. Just had a few family vacations to Florida.

My dad and I used to always go in the springtime to Lexington, Kentucky, we just start driving and whenever it got warm enough to play golf he we stopped (laughter.) I played a lot of hockey through the winter. Wasn't a yearly routine to play golf.

Q. As soon as it gets warm, that was Lexington?
COREY CONNERS: That was it, yeah. Yeah. Start out the first time we drove until it got warm enough and we liked that spot. Became familiar with some of the courses and lots of options for us.

Q. Most people go to Lexington for the Derby.
COREY CONNERS: We did. I don't think we ever got to go to a race but toured around Keeneland Raceway.

JACK RYAN: Anymore questions for Corey? Thank you.

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