Corey Conners – the pride of Listowel

By Doug Kennedy

Canada boasts some of the best athletes in the world these days, men and women whose names are recognized around the globe. That list would include Corey Conners, the pride of Listowel, who is number 54 in the world men’s professional golf rankings and one of the very good young players on the PGA Tour.

It was really exciting to watch Conners do so well last fall in his third appearance at the Masters. Augusta National’s postcard-like beauty makes watching the Masters so magical. Conners set a Canadian record with a second-round 65, en route to finishing tenth at the Masters in November, sealing a place in the 2021 tournament, which will return to its regular place on golf’s schedule in April.

I remember when Tiger Woods put that green jacket on, Mike Weir when he won the 2003 Masters and how excited Canadians were on that Sunday evening. Fast forward to today and seeing a young man who grew up in Listowel being a role model for young golfers across our country is truly amazing.

We talk about the Toronto Raptors, Blue Jays and Maple Leafs, and the influence those athletes have on the lives of young people. Conners and the current group of great young  Canadian golfers, which also includes Brooke Henderson, Adam Hadwin, Mackenzie Hughes, Michael Gligic and Nick Taylor, will undoubtedly carry the sport to new heights of popularity and participation here at home.

I was fortunate to meet Conners during a Christmas Eve stop at Bender’s Auto Sales in Listowel, an annual event that brings together passionate sports types to share a snack, (and possibly a beverage), and swap some stories. Speaking with him that day, you knew right away he was a really nice young man who truly enjoyed being home for the holidays. Cathy and I have golfed with his mother, Janet, a few times and it is easy to see how proud she is of her son as a person and as someone whose dreams have come true.

Conners received a golf scholarship for Kent State University, where he developed his skills into one of the top amateurs in the world, and played alongside fellow Canadian, Hughes. The pair developed a strong friendship and have since each won PGA tour tournaments. Conners made his Masters debut as an amateur before turning pro not too long thereafter.

His two biggest influences have been Janet and his dad, Mike, who introduced him to golf at an early age.

“They provided me with many opportunities to develop my game,” said Conners.

Conners has been coached by Derek Ingram {from Winnipeg} for approximately 10 years, starting when the Listowel native joined Golf Canada’s national team program.

“Derek travels with me on tour to a number of events and has been a great asset to my team,” Conners said.

Conners credits the PGA tour for doing an outstanding job last year to get their players safely back into tournament play during the COVID-19 pandemic. The day can’t come soon enough when Conners can play in front of fans again.

He said he has a great relationship with all the Canadian players as they play practice rounds together on tour. Conners and Gligic, who both live in the Palm Beach Gardens area of Florida for most of the year, often play rounds together during weeks away from the tour.

A normal week for Conners starts with flying to the event either Sunday night or Monday morning. First thing up is a COVID-19 test and being cleared to compete. On Monday morning, he heads to the range for a few hours of practice. After lunch, he plays nine holes, before heading back to the range for a few more hours. Tuesday morning starts with a full practice round, which often includes his fellow Canadians, followed by more practice in the afternoon. Wednesday morning is the pro-am – which puts together the tour golfers with sponsors, celebrities and other high-profile women and men – then a light afternoon practice.

When the tournament begins Thursday, Conners arrives at the golf course a couple of hours before his tee time. He has something to eat, stretches, warms up on the range and putting green, and then it’s off to the first tee. After each round, he heads out to practice for 45-90 minutes. When he finishes Sunday, it’s straight to the airport for a flight home or on to the next tour stop.

Conners says the highlight of his young career is winning the 2019 Valero Texas Open. It is pretty special to be a PGA tour winner and seeing a local golfer win on the sport’s big stage is a moment I will never forget. He finished 53rd in the tour’s season-ending FedEx Cup rankings and is just getting started. Conners is scheduled to return to the PGA tour at the end of January, to play in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego.

He received $300,000 from the tour’s RSM Birdies Fore Love charitable program last season, for making the most birdies of anyone on tour this fall. The money went to a foundation started by Conners and his wife, Malory, to help children and youth in the areas of sport and education in local communities around Listowel. The Conners have been married for a couple of years now and enjoy life in Florida and travelling around North America. Malory’s reactions during the final round of Conners’ first tour tournament victory received a ton of attention (search “Malory Conners” on YouTube for the video evidence).

“I would not be where I am today without Malory,” said Conners.

Conners has quickly made a name for himself in the golf world and there’s no doubt the young man from the Listowel Golf Club will inspire Canadian kids to try and follow the path he’s created.

Corey Conners – the pride of Listowel was last modified: January 13th, 2021 by Tammy Schneider

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