Corey Conners tied at the top, three Canadians in the top ten at Oak Hill

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ROCHESTER, NY — It’s been 20 years since Mike Weir won Canada’s only major men’s championship, with Corey Conners aiming for second at the weekend.

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The peppy Conners started his day on the 10th hole, playing three-under 67 in the first round and two-under 68 in the second to set a par of five-under. After 36 holes, he is tied at the top of the PGA Championship at Oak Hill, a tree-lined parkland course. The lead at Five Under is shared by 2022 Masters winner Scottie Scheffler and 25-year-old Viktor Hovland. Overall, just nine players are below average.

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“It’s a spectacular golf test. It’s challenging,” said 31-year-old Conners. “Obviously hitting the ball is one of my strengths. I thought that would serve me really well.”

Just across the border in Rochester and four hours from Conners’ hometown of Listowel, Ontario, everything worked great for the two-time PGA Tour winner at Oak Hill, including his sometimes suspect putter.

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“We went back to cross-handed about two months ago,” said Conners’ swing coach Derek Ingram. “He was a lot better within 10 feet, was making a lot more putts and was just a lot more confident.”

After two rounds, Conners is fifth overall in putting strokes, 129 places above his season ranking of 134. After hitting his only bogey of the day on the 16th hole, he hit a 12-foot shot on the 17th hole. Par saving putt and another of similar length on the 18th hole. Two holes later, on the second hole, he rolled a 22-foot birdie putt.

“My speed was great and I saw several putts, that feels good,” said Conners.

The steeply sloping greens with curved grass are quite familiar to Conners and it seems to be paying off.

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“Both Taylor (Pendrith) and Corey have told me how it feels like playing golf at home, so they love it here,” said Ingram.

The hard-hitting Pendrith is also in contention, having shot 70-69 and tied in eighth at a standoff.

“I’m very comfortable here, but we’re always cheering for each other and trying to hit each other,” Pendrith said of Conners, who was best man at his wedding, and his other Canadian compatriots. “It’s always nice to see a few flags on the leaderboard. It’s nice to see so far.”

Conners is Canada’s highest ranked golfer and is ranked 29th in the world. He climbed 12 places after his recent win at the Valero Texas Open.

“I think winning in Texas a little over a month ago is a big plus for me,” he said. “Yes I have a lot of confidence in my game, feeling good and having fun out there.”

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Adam Svensson is the third Canadian in the top 10 ahead of the weekend. The 29-year-old Surrey, BC native is part of a large group of equal players that also includes great champions Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry. Svensson won the PGA Tour’s RSM Classic last November.

With Adam Hadwin, four Canadians will compete in the second major of the season this weekend, finishing 36 holes three over par.

“Taylor hasn’t had his best this year but I think this is a tailor-made golf course for him,” Hadwin said of Pendrith. “And obviously Corey is a stud.”

Nick Taylor (+7) and Mackenzie Hughes (+8) missed the cut.


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