After parring his way through his first nine holes at Royal St. George’s on Saturday, four birdies in five holes immediately after making the turn has Corey Conners in contention at the Open Championship.
Conners birdied the 10th, 12th and 13th, all par fours, and the par five 14th and finished with a bogey free, four under 66. At eight under through the first three rounds, Conners is tied for fourth, four shots off the lead held by Louis Oosthuizen.
Just another shot back in a tie for sixth is Mackenzie Hughes, who birdied three of his final five holes of the day, including 18, to finish with a 68.
“I played really solid golf all through the front nine, wasn’t able to get the putts to fall. I stayed patient, gave myself some good chances, hit a nice approach on No. 10, 15 or 20 feet behind the hole, was able to roll that in,” said Conners.
“I got some positive mojo going for the rest of the nine, hit a nice wedge shot into No. 12 and was able to convert that. Same thing on 13, really nice approach shot.
“I had a tricky two-putt on 14,” he added.
“I went a little by the hole, but was able to make that for birdie, which was great,” he said.
“I really had a few more good chances coming in and wasn’t able to convert those, but yeah, it was a solid day. I could have had a stretch of making a few birdies kind of anywhere throughout the round if I would have got some putts to fall. I felt like I really struck the ball well today,” said Conners.
With a tie for eighth and a tie for 10th in his last two Masters, being in the top 10 at a major championship is nothing new for Conners, who says he not only feels comfortable with the position he’s in going into Sunday’s final round, but also with his game and the golf course.
His third round is an example of what he will be attempting to achieve on Sunday, rather than being overly aggressive in his desire to ascend the leaderboard even more.
“I think there’s a fine line. I felt like I was quite aggressive today. I gave myself a ton of good birdie chances, really didn’t get into too much trouble, which was definitely a big key, to avoid making bogeys,” said Conners.
“I think just kind of the same game plan. I don’t think you can force it too much, but I know if I hit good shots, I’m going to have plenty of opportunities, so just keep in that mindset and hopefully, I can continue to do that tomorrow.” he said.
Hughes, who held the 54 hole lead at the U.S. Open in June before tying for 15th at Torrey Pines, agrees.
“I think you have to pick your spots,” he said.
“I think there’s certain holes where you know there’s a certain spot you really can’t miss it, so you end up playing to kind of the fatter side, but there are some opportunities out there where it gives you a wedge or it gives you a pretty good hole location that you have to kind of be aggressive to, but you start forcing it around here and you can make some bogeys,” he added.
Hughes made the turn at one under after he birdied the seventh hole, but bogeyed the 11th and 13th before his three birdies on his final five holes.
“I felt like I was in great control early on and had lots of great looks and was swinging it nicely and wasn’t really getting much out of it,” said Hughes.
“I kind of had a bit of a stumble there at the start of the back nine, dropped a couple shots, and yeah, it was nice to kind of stay patient, hang in there and get a couple coming in. All in all, I was very pleased with the effort and in with a shot tomorrow,” he said.
Conners will tee it up with Jordan Spieth at 2:25 p.m. local time in Sunday’s final round. Hughes will play with Dylan Frittelli, beginning at 2:05 p.m. local time.
The leaderboard is here.