The pace picks up considerably on Thursday for Corey Conners after a brief respite between the conclusion last season and the beginning of this PGA Tour season.
“The last few weeks was back home in Florida with my wife and our little girl, Reis, went on our boat a few times, just kind of took it easy, hung by the pool,” said Conners.
“I still tried to keep the game sharp, work on the game, played a bunch of rounds, pretty typical, nothing out of the ordinary for us, but it was nice to be home,” he said.
“I hadn’t spent much time back in Florida throughout the last few months, so it was nice to get home, relax. Picked a few weeds in the garden and yeah, just tried to rejuvenate the mind and body a little bit,” he added.
With his Presidents Cup debut on the horizon, Conners has a more immediate concern before that takes place at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C. next week. He’s in Napa, Calif., for this week’s season opener, the Fortinet Championship at the Silverado Resort and Spa’s North Course.
Conners is coming off a 2021-22 season that he finished with four top 10s, including a tie for third at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, a T6 at the Masters, a sixth-place finish at the RBC Canadian Open and a T5 at the BMW Championship that sent him on to the Tour Championship, where he placed 26th.
“It was a solid season. Certainly a goal of mine was to get back in the winner’s circle last season, wasn’t able to do that, but felt like my game was really solid. I made some improvements and (had) a lot of really good weeks,” said Conners.
“I played well in the first couple playoff events to cement my spot in the Tour Championship, which was another goal, and it’s always nice to end the season there,” he said.
“It’s a great event giving you a chance to win the FedExCup, ran out of gas a little bit that week and didn’t quite have it, but overall, (last) season would have to be classified as a success. It was, yeah, very consistent,” he added.
“I’m looking forward, trying to continue the good play, but trying to give myself some more chances to win and continue to have those top finishes in the big events,” said Conners, an automatic selection to the International team at the Presidents Cup.
“Excited to be (in Napa) this week and looking forward to the Presidents Cup next week, be my first time there. Yeah, definitely got a challenge ahead of us, the International Team, but we’ve got a young team, we’re all hungry and it will be fun,” he said.
Conners is aware he can’t get ahead of himself, knowing that the 7,123-yard Silverado North Course could be tricky in the season debut.
“It’s a great golf course, kind of has an old-school feel, narrow fairways and tree lined. I’m really impressed with the condition of the golf course. It’s always been good, but getting here this year, it’s in fantastic condition,” said Conners.
“It’s got some firmness, which is going to make it challenging. I think the weather forecast looks pretty sunny, so it will continue to firm up and that will definitely make things tricky out there, but great golf course, feel like you can sort of see your shots well and yeah, excited for the test,” he said.
On Sunday evening, following the conclusion of the Fortinet Championship, Conners will be on a plane east to Charlotte for the Presidents Cup, an event he came close to being a part of the last time it was played.
Quail Hollow, he says, is one of his favourite courses on tour.
“It has a bit of an Augusta feel to it, beautifully manicured and great shape to some of the holes, a little bit up and down, but I’ve always really loved that golf course, haven’t had any great finishes there, but I think it sets up well for my game,” said Conners.
“I think hitting a little further is definitely an advantage. I’m not known as one of the longest hitters, so don’t really have that going for me, but I think it’s important to be in control of all parts of your game from tee to green,” he said.
“The greens can get firm and fast, quite a bit of slope on some of them, so it’s a place that I’ve always really enjoyed playing and I’m really excited for that challenge next week,” he added.
There is an added bonus for Conners with the addition of his good buddy Taylor Pendrith, who was named to the International team as a captain’s pick by Trevor Immelman.
Pendrith is a big hitter who would complement Conners’ renowned iron game, but whether the two Canadians are paired together at Quail Hollow remains to be seen.
Conners says he will respect whatever Immelman decides.
“We’ll have to see. We certainly are really close friends. We’ve played on a lot of teams together, the national team in Canada and Kent State University, lived together every year,” said Conners.
“He lived with me down in Florida for a few years, so we’re really, really close. We were the best man in each other’s wedding. It certainly would be a very comfortable pairing for both of us,” he said.
“We’ll see what the captain wants to do. I don’t think anything’s quite been decided yet, I’m not sure. I think there’s a chance, but it’s certainly not a guarantee that we’ll be paired together. I think it would be definitely, like I said, a lot of fun to play with him,” he added.
“He’s been playing great this year. Some of the things in his game I love, distance off the tee and his creativity, he’s always got a shot. Yeah, it would definitely be pretty cool to pair up with him, but just sharing this experience with such a close friend is going to be special either way,” said Conners.
Conners starts the first round in Napa on Thursday at 7:44 a.m. local time.