ROCHESTER, N.Y. — For Corey Conners, waking up to temperatures in the high 20s and hitting his first tee shot before it warmed into the 40s felt like home.
But not the place the Canadian native has called home for the past eight years.
Conners shot a 3-under 67 in Thursday’s opening round of the PGA Championship, which is being played about a four-hour drive from where he grew up, about 160 miles west of Toronto. The start was delayed about two hours because of frost and the first round will be completed early Friday.
But as much as Conners spoke about Oak Hill Country Club having “a little bit of a Canadian feel,” he made an admission.
“I still would like it to be warmer,” he said.
Which is why his adopted home since 2016 has been Palm Beach County, Florida. After originally moving to Palm Beach Gardens he recently landed in Jupiter.
A professional golfer living in Jupiter. Shocking!
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Conners may fly under the radar compared with his more famous neighbors such as Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and others. But in the golf world, this 31-year-old is well known.
Conners has two career wins on the PGA Tour, the 2019 and 2023 Texas Open, and had three consecutive top-10 finishes at the Masters before missing the cut last month. Now, he’s among the leaders at the PGA Championship.
“I feel like if I play well, I can get myself in contention any week of the year,” Conners said. “And I feel like I’m playing well so hopefully I can keep playing free and be in the mix on Sunday.”
Conners’ original love was hockey and his yardage book has a Toronto Maple Leafs logo on the cover. Golf became his passion at the age of 15 and two years later he was named to Golf Canada’s national junior team. He made the men’s team the next year.
Golf, though, was in the family bloodlines with his grandfather and father being members of his home club in Listowel, Ontario. At one time, his father was president of the club.
Conners had a successful career at Kent State. He was runner-up at the U.S. Amateur in 2014 and turned pro in 2015. He also received a degree in actuarial mathematics.
“Risk assessment,” he said when asked how best to describe his major. “That’s the easiest way to put it.”
Now, Conners is taking risks on the golf course, like pulling out a 5-iron on No. 6 and hitting it 214 yards to within 4 inches. He tapped in for the second of his six birdies.
“I was trying to be aggressive there and execute a really good shot,” he said.
Conners admitted carding six birdies was a surprise.
“I would say the couple of things that worked really well, I hit a couple of great approach shots when I could be aggressive and hit a lot of smart shots and was able to roll in some putts,” he said. “That certainly felt good to see some putts go in.”