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May 19, 2021

Corey Conners

Kiawah Island, South Carolina, USA

The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Good morning, and welcome back to the 2021 PGA Championship here at The Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. We are happy welcome Corey Conners of Canada, currently ranked No. 39 in the Official World Rankings and rising rather quickly.

Welcome to what is your third career PGA Championship. Doing some research, you've had a terrific season to date. Lots of consistently, really, really good play, and that's why you're shooting up the rankings, but I want to ask you, you won last year, I believe, but what's it's going to take to go to the winner's circle this year?

COREY CONNERS: I've given myself a lot of chances, like you've said. I've had a lot of consistent play this year. I've gotten myself in the mix a number of times. But I think my iron play and driving has been really solid. I think just, you know, just get hot around the greens frees me up with the other parts of my game. I've had a lot more consistency on the greens as of late and that's definitely helped me have the consistent results.

But I think making some improvements there and just getting hot in that area will definitely give me the best chance to be in the winner's circle again.

THE MODERATOR: Maybe tell us about your initial impressions of this golf course. Have you ever been here before this week? You've probably played it a couple times so far. What would you tell someone who has never been here before?

COREY CONNERS: Yeah, it's a spectacular place. Got here on Sunday. Golf course is phenomenal. It's a very good test tee-to-green, very, very challenging, and it's going to take a few solid rounds to get yourself in the mix. There's definitely a lot of trouble lurking out there. There's a lot of length to the golf course. Had quite a bit of wind blowing the last few days, so expecting that to continue.

It's going to be a battle out there. Patience is going to be key, something I'm good at, and beautiful course in perfect condition. It's playing pretty quick. The greens are fairly firm. Just beautiful shape.

So I think, you know, I was really blown away by the property. It's beautiful. Sort of right in front of you but you've got to hit good shots on every hole.

Q. Your experience in the PGA championships has not been good; how do you see things now?

COREY CONNERS: Yeah, I don't think I was in the best form going into the other PGA championships I've played. I struggled a little bit. The golf courses were difficult and a little intimidating maybe. I feel a lot more confident in my game. Feel a lot more ready to tackle the challenge that it's going to be this week. I'm definitely really excited for it. I think my consistent play as of late has given me the added confidence needed to play on a difficult golf course, and looking forward to the challenge, like I said.

Q. I think the other side of this is the last two majors, consecutive Masters, you finished Top-10.

COREY CONNERS: Yeah, gave me a big boost of confidence there. It's a strong field and pretty prestigious event. Looking forward to having a good week here. I definitely have high expectations. I think my game is in good shape and I think I can get myself in the mix here.

Q. Great ball-striking has been a foundation of your game, which usually stands up well in the wind. How have you found your game in the wind so far this week, and are you sort of hoping it blows pretty hard?

COREY CONNERS: Yeah, I'm definitely hoping it blows. Like you said, the good ball-striking's been a big part of my game for a while. You know, I don't mind playing in the wind.

I think something that sort of separates me is keeping good tempo regardless of the conditions, and if it gets windy, a good tempo results in a lot better contact. I hit solid shots and still have good control over the golf ball. So I'm certainly hoping it blows. It will definitely make things challenging, but I think that good solid driving and iron play is something that can separate me.

Q. It's your first time to this golf course, and a lot of players have said there's a lot to learn out there. How much have you been out on the course this week, and has anything stood out or surprised you from maybe what you saw on television from 2012?

COREY CONNERS: Yeah, it's definitely really long. There's a number of long holes, a lot of long irons into some holes.

I think with a lot of Pete Dye Courses, it sort of looks visually intimidating off the tees, but I've been able to play Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and going out this afternoon again for a final nine. I think, you know, realizing there's a little bit of room out there, you can still be aggressive off the tee and into the greens.

You definitely have to learn a lot about the golf course. I was fortunate to play it on Sunday and the wind was a little bit different direction. We kind of had the same wind direction Monday, Tuesday, and today. So getting to see it with slightly different wind was I think a big key, as well, and just knowing how some holes can change if the wind direction changes a little bit.

Q. Just wondering, obviously you said you played the golf course already, and there's obviously fans out there as well. Of course the tournament hasn't started, but can you speak a little bit to the buzz on site right now with the crowds?

COREY CONNERS: Yeah, it's definitely awesome. We've been missing the crowds for the large majority of the last year, and to have people out here on the practice days, it's definitely pretty cool. There's a lot of fans out there. It's been fun to kind of get a taste of what it's going to be like to play in front of them again. Definitely enjoy it. Definitely miss having the people out there.

It's a walk out there. I told my wife, you'd better put on your walking shoes. It's quite a walk out there for the spectators. They are going to walk some miles if they are going to walk around the golf course.

Q. Did you play with Adam Hadwin and MacKenzie this week?

COREY CONNERS: We played on Monday afternoon. We played together, the Canadians. It's good. You can always learn a lot from them, each other. Obviously we're good friends so I was quite comfortable, and I think we all learned a lot and are definitely cheering for each other this week.

Q. Were there four of you?

COREY CONNERS: Just the three of us.

Q. You spoke earlier of the putting. Curious what adjustments you've made this year on that front to show some more consistency on that side of your game.

COREY CONNERS: Last summer, I switched to a new putter and switched to a left-hand-low or cross-handed style putting and found I've been hitting my lines a lot better, a lot more consistently with that and still have really good feel. I've worked really, really hard on trying to keep that consistency, try to make small improvements and definitely feel freer, feel like it's been better. I've been seeing more putts go in the hole.

That's really the change I made, and I've been really committed to trying to improve things and that seem to be on a good trajectory right now.

Q. As a quick follow-up, curious your thought on the last five holes of the golf course. I know that some of the golfers have said it's quite challenging. Would like your thoughts.

COREY CONNERS: Yeah, you definitely have got to strap it on for the last five. They've been playing into the wind the last few days, and presumably going to be into the wind again for the rest of the week. They have a lot of length to them. They have got -- yeah, they are very challenging. There's a couple par 3s in there, 14 and 17, that if they play it all the way back could see some woods into the greens. They are both pretty small targets.

You've definitely got to be ready to go for those holes and can hopefully finish off the round strong. They are very, very challenging.

There's not a lot of holes you're looking to pick up a shot. You're trying to play smart and see if you can make some pars.

THE MODERATOR: I was interested in one thing you said, you seem to embrace the challenge that the wind could present this week. A little bit different tone than some of the other players we've had visit us here. What's the root of that? When did you begin to fashion yourself as a player that's comfortable in the wind? Is your ball flight low?

COREY CONNERS: Being a solid ball-striker for a long time has given me confidence in the wind knowing I'm going to hit it solid. Living in South Florida, get quite a bit of wind so get some practice in that. As a kid growing up in Canada, I used to embrace the difficult elements whether it was wind or rain or cold and try and work on my game during those conditions. I feel like I'm definitely prepared for anything.

The solid ball-striking, I'd prefer it definitely wasn't windy but I embrace the challenge of the wind. If it wasn't windy, that's something where I can separate myself by striking the ball really solid.

Q. With your climb in the World Rankings, now you are a major player and you play all the majors. Does it change your calendar? Does it change your preparation? What are the main changes?

COREY CONNERS: Get to add some nice events like this to the schedule so it does change a few things. You know, skipping out on other events to make sure I'm rested up and energized and ready to go for the big events. So yeah, World Golf Championships and the majors, been fortunate to get to add to the schedule, and it's a very good problem to have.

I'm going to miss out on some of the regular tour events. Just trying to manage my energy and keep my game sharp at home. I enjoy having some time off to work on things and been able to adjust things slightly, but it's a good problem to have.

Q. So for this week was there something that you did that you were doing differently before, preparing for this week?

COREY CONNERS: I wasn't really sure what to expect necessarily on this golf course. I focused last week on keeping my iron play sharp, working on the driver and making sure those strengths stayed really strong. I assumed they would be pretty important here, which I think they will be.

Tried to just do my normal, you know, preparation, normal routines. I have had success at many different events just sticking to that good routine, and I'm working hard but working smart.

Q. So talking about the mental part of the majors, what worked for you in the last two majors that you think you can apply here?

COREY CONNERS: I think just playing in more and more of them, just the comfort level, comes with getting the experience, definitely more comfortable out there. I know I don't have to force things from the outset. Just trust my game, stick to the game plan that I've prepared, and just do my thing. Don't have to -- I think in my first few goes at the majors, tried to, you know, over-prepare, overdo things, and try a little too hard in a sense.

Just, you know, just got to go out there and play golf. Try to get the ball in the hole as fast as possible.

THE MODERATOR: Let's end on a fun note. Leafs fan?

COREY CONNERS: Leafs fans, yeah, big game Thursday night.

THE MODERATOR: Thoughts on their prospects against the Habs this week and in the series, and also your thoughts on the all-Canadian division? Is it something you enjoyed this year? Would you like to see it carry on, or is it a one-off that is was just unique and let's get back to normal?

COREY CONNERS: First of all, it was great to see the Canadian division rivalries that sort of have developed in Canada. The teams got to play one another nine or ten times, which was really cool. Tuned into a lot of the games and I think they enjoyed it but probably ready to get back to normal. Seeing some of rinks down in the US having crowds, I think the Canadian teams, the Leafs are a bit jealous of that, missing out on some extra excitement and motivation around the games.

But I'm excited for the matchup against the Habs. Don't want to get too far ahead of myself, but I definitely like the Leafs' chances. I think they are the favorites to get out of that North division and hopefully can give themselves a chance at the Stanley Cup. It would definitely be pretty cool. It's been fun as a hockey fan to watch all the teams that I know a little bit better playing one another.

It's definitely been a fun season, but I'm looking forward to it getting back to normal and hopefully I can get back to a few games next season. I like to get to the games when they play in Florida or wherever else we are on the road.

THE MODERATOR: Jinx-proof: How many games do they beat the Habs in?

COREY CONNERS: I'm saying five.

THE MODERATOR: Five it is. All right. It's on the record. Thanks for visiting us.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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