PGA Tour Inc.

03/08/2018 | News release | Distributed by Public on 03/08/2018 15:37

Rookie Corey Conners sets the pace at Valspar Championship

PALM HARBOR, Fla. - What a difference a few days can make. On Monday, Corey Conners made an unsuccessful attempt to qualify for the Valspar Championship. He was leading the tournament when he walked off the course Thursday afternoon.

Conners' 71 on Monday at Southern Hills Plantation in nearby Brooksville, Florida, was six shots too high to earn a spot in this week's PGA TOUR stop, but the rookie learned later that day that he got in the Valspar field after another player withdrew.

Conners made five birdies and just one bogey on a difficult day at Innisbrook Resort's Copperhead Course. Cool, breezy conditions played to the strengths of the Canadian who attended college at Ohio's Kent State, where he was teammates with PGA TOUR winner Mackenzie Hughes.

'I don't overpower it, but everything is really solid,' Conners said. 'I definitely like the challenge and like golf courses that put a premium on the fairway and hitting the green.'

He missed just four fairways Thursday, but his short game saved him several times as he hit just 11 greens.

'It was a lot of tap-in pars and made some birdies,' said Conners, who needed just 24 putts Thursday, ranks 133rd in the FedExCup. He has made the cut in nine of 10 starts this season, but hasn't finished better than T29. He was a two-time U.S. Amateur semifinalist (2013, '14), losing to Gunn Yang in the 2014 final.