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April 9, 2019

Corey Conners

Augusta, Georgia

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, please help me welcome Corey Conners to the interview room and to the Masters.
Congratulations. It was some week last week. Corey earned his invitation this past Sunday night. He got his first PGA TOUR victory at the Valero Texas Open. Recorded ten birdies in the final round, including a 6‑under par second nine.
Can you take us through what the experience was like this past week?
COREY CONNERS: Yeah, obviously it was a special week, a crazy week. Yeah, felt good with my game going into the week. Was a Monday qualifier to get myself into the field. I got some confidence from that, and just tried to play well and be aggressive and kept that attitude the whole week and through the weekend.
Yeah, was able to make a bunch of birdies and ultimately get the victory. So super exciting. Honestly wasn't expecting that, and knew I could give myself a chance, but really happy to have played so well and pretty excited to earn an invitation to be here. So things are good.
THE MODERATOR: We're excited you're here, but you're back for your second Masters. You played as an amateur in 2015. What did you take from that experience?
COREY CONNERS: I look a lot. It was a dream come true at that point to play here and play in the Masters Tournament, and yeah, got a bunch of practice rounds in that week and learned from guys like Mike Weir, who I grew up watching as a kid, gave me some pointers, some strategy, and kind of helped me with the game plan. Still remember that. It's hard to forget things about this golf course; it's so special.
Yeah, I feel like I've been playing rounds over in my head through the course ‑‑ and although the course has changed slightly, a lot of the shots are going to be pretty similar to what I faced in 2015. A lot of good memories. The second round, 69, so obviously can play well. I think the course suits my game really well so I'm really, really excited to get going.

Q. At just about this time a week ago, if someone had suggested the Masters to you, a week from then, what would you have said?
COREY CONNERS: Yeah, I wouldn't have believed it. It's been a crazy week for sure. Yeah, the good fortune I had and the Monday qualifier and in through the playoff, basically squeaking into the field.
I had confidence. I've had some good finishes this year and I felt good with my game, but yeah, definitely wouldn't have believed that I would be here. I was excited to watch the coverage on TV back at home for an off‑week, but you know, I'm even more excited to be here playing.

Q. Where was the qualifier? What course was that?
COREY CONNERS: The Club at Sonterra in San Antonio.

Q. And you birdied the last hole in regulation. What happened on the first playoff hole?
COREY CONNERS: Yeah, the first playoff hole, there was six of us playing. I was the only one to make birdie. I hit a 3‑wood off the tee. Everyone else hit an iron, so they were a little further back. I just had a wedge into the green and was able to stick it pretty close and made about a 6‑foot putt. Nobody else made birdie, so it was just a one‑hole, which was nice, and got through.

Q. What's the reaction at this point among your family and friends, to kind of a star is born, with Malory?
COREY CONNERS: Yeah, she's been my biggest fan for years and my biggest supporter. I'm really lucky to have her by my side. It's pretty cool to see her in the spotlight a little bit. Her reactions were awesome. You can see how much she cares about what I'm doing, and it means a lot to me. It was pretty cool. She got a lot of messages and gained a lot of followers on social media, so she was pretty pumped about that.

Q. Where did you guys meet?
COREY CONNERS: We both grew up in Listowel, Ontario, Canada. The house she grew up in was right next to my grandparents' house where I spent a bunch of time as a youngster. So I've kind of known her family for awhile and we started dating just after high school, started after university. We dated for about eight years before getting married in October.

Q. Can you take us through the last 48 hours, what happened, what did you do, your emotions? Should be really a roller coaster coming in, eh?
COREY CONNERS: Yeah, definitely a roller coaster. Yeah, it's been wild. After getting the victory, did some stuff with Valero at the tournament and was able to fly here Sunday night. Arrived really late and took it easy yesterday. Tried to soak it in and realize that I'm in Augusta right now. I'm going to be teeing it up in the Masters.
Pretty amazing. Today, I was able to do some practice and get out on the course. It feels pretty cool. But definitely been a crazy couple days.

Q. Was it difficult to make travel arrangements on such a short delay?
COREY CONNERS: Well, I haven't had to do too much work. My team's been on that for me. My wife and manager have been taking care of those things, so making it easy for me.

Q. That was kind of my question, too. But can you expand a little bit on the logistics? How do you get from there to here? How do you find a place to stay? What do you do about extra clothes? How do you handle all that stuff?
COREY CONNERS: Yeah, there's a lot going on. Manager, basically, has taken care of that. We were able to get the ‑‑ Valero flew us on their jet from San Antonio, which was very nice. And yeah, my clothing sponsor, Levelwear, sent some more clothes, because I had packed for a Monday qualifier and got in the field last week and now we're here. So we actually went shopping last night, so I could get a couple t‑shirts and a pair of pants to go to dinner in (laughing).
Yeah, a bunch of my family is coming into town. Was able to find a couple houses that they are able to stay in. Yeah, my manager helped me secure a spot to stay.

Q. This place is so unique, obviously, to any other tournament that you may have been around, whether playing or just been around as a spectator. Is there something from 2015 or now that you just find really intimidating, something about not necessarily the course itself, but an experience, an intimidating moment at Augusta National?
COREY CONNERS: I think I felt really comfortable. I was almost surprised how comfortable and relaxed I felt last time. So I'm going to take a lot from that and just try and kind of settle into the round, be relaxed.
It feels amazing to be walking inside the ropes, and I learned that in 2015. I'm just going to try to soak it up even more this week, but I don't think I'm intimidated, really. I watched the tournament since I was a youngster, and know a lot of the holes. So I feel like I have a good game plan and I'll be pretty comfortable out there.
There's obviously some very challenging holes, but my game's been getting better and better each year, and I feel like it's in a great place right now. I'm excited.

Q. What type of people have recognized you since the win that you hadn't been recognized before?
COREY CONNERS: We were eating dinner last night, my wife, Malory and I, and I don't know if they recognized me or if they recognized her. But we had a bunch of different people come up to our table to say congrats.
I was playing out there earlier today and so many of the Patrons were cheering for me. Something I haven't really experienced in the past, but felt pretty awesome. Sort of sinking in, what a big deal winning a PGA TOUR event is.
Yeah, so we haven't really had much time to go out and react with too many people, but definitely getting noticed a lot more than ever before.

Q. What about players? Did Tiger Woods know you before this? Did any famous or top‑ranked players acknowledge you now that maybe didn't know you were out on Tour before?
COREY CONNERS: Yeah, I think there's been a bunch today. I saw Bubba in the PING trailer during the delay. Jimmy Walker, Webb Simpson been, yeah, congratulating me and Charles Howell.

Q. They all knew your name and the whole thing, or you had met them before?
COREY CONNERS: Yeah, I was sitting with Sean Foley at the‑‑ during the delay, as well, and he said that he and Justin were working yesterday and Justin had some nice things to say about my game, as we played together in Tampa last year, and that was pretty cool.
I haven't bumped into Tiger or whatnot, but yeah, I got congratulated by Bryson and Justin. Yeah, feels pretty cool.

Q. You've obviously had less time to prepare for this tournament than everybody else in the field, both mentally and also physically by getting out and practicing. Is there any way you think that the way you arrived here might play to your advantage?
COREY CONNERS: Well, I've tried to manage my energy a little bit. Obviously last week took a lot out of me, and was able to rest up yesterday. Won't go too hard tomorrow, and I think I'll be feeling pretty fresh for the tournament.
I probably would prefer to have gotten a few more looks at the golf course with some of the greens. Some of them have changed since I played a few years ago. But I don't really feel like I'm at a disadvantage. I've been, like I said before, playing the course over in my head, and I know where you want to lay up on the par 5s, if you can't go for it, and feel like I'm hitting the ball really well and no matter where I am, I can hit some good shots.

Q. Do you think this is a course perhaps you can over‑think it or over‑prepare for the challenge?
COREY CONNERS: Yeah, possibly. One of my strategies is going to keep it simple and not try to overdo things and not try to do too much with shots. Just be a little safe, but be aggressive, and yeah, that seemed to work well last week. Different golf course here but still have to get the ball in the hole as fast as possible.

Q. Were you thinking at all going into Monday, the Monday qualifier, it was just about getting into, obviously that's your first priority, were you thinking at all this is your last chance to get in the Masters or was that completely out of your‑‑ you're like, I just want to be in the tournament here?
COREY CONNERS: Yeah, that was completely out of my mind, hoping to get in the tournament and have another good finish and move myself up the FedExCup rankings and hopefully be able to add a few more tournaments to the schedule.
Yeah, didn't really start thinking about the Masters until after the round on Saturday, going into Sunday and realized it was a possibility. I said this in San Antonio after I won. My wife was checking us back in for our flight back to Palm Beach Sunday morning on the iPad in the hotel room and I'm like, don't check us in for that flight quite yet, I have some other plan, so yeah, now we're here.

Q. Did you sense by the time you got to Sunday morning, maybe something special‑‑ how you got into the tournament, you're playing well, you have a shot at it; did it finally start to, like you say, hit you that, wow, this could be a story I couldn't have written five or six days ago?
COREY CONNERS: Not really. When I was walking around out there, everyone was calling me the Monday qualifier, but I don't feel like a Monday qualifier. I've played well in a bunch of tour events this year, and so I wasn't thinking too much about that, and the story it might recreate. I was just trying to stay relaxed and knew if I played my game, I would give myself a chance.

Q. What are your expectations for the week and what would be a good week at the end of the week looking back?
COREY CONNERS: Sorry, I didn't get the second part.

Q. What would be a good week for you, looking back on the week, what would constitute a good week for you?
COREY CONNERS: Obviously would love to give myself another chance to win. I don't like‑‑ I don't like setting specific targets, necessarily, and then if I don't meet that, I may be overly disappointed.
But I feel like I'm playing really well. Definitely get myself in the mix and, yeah, hopefully have a chance to win. I think a Top‑10 finish would be pretty awesome after winning last week.
THE MODERATOR: Corey, thanks so much for your time today and we wish you the very best this week.

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