Canada’s Conners and Pendrith bring chemistry to international team at Presidents Cup
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - SEPTEMBER 21: Corey Conners of Canada and the International Team walks with the International team up the 18th hole during a practice round prior to the 2022 Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow Country Club on September 21, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Golf New Brunswick
By: John Chidley-Hill
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Finding chemistry on the eclectic Presidents Cup international team can be a challenge, but Canadians Corey Conners and Taylor Pendrith are bringing their own spark to captain Trevor Immelman’s squad.
Conners and Pendrith played together on Golf Canada’s amateur teams before becoming teammates at Kent State University and were even the best man at each other’s weddings. They’ll be making their Presidents Cup debuts on Thursday as the best-on-best tournament tees off at Quail Hollow Golf Club outside Charlotte, N.C.
“To be here with him is really special, and if we have a partnership, I think we can certainly feed off of one another,” said Conners before Wednesday’s first-round draw. “If I hit a poor shot, I know he’s going to bail me out, and if he struggles on a hole, I’m going to be giving it my all to give us a chance to win the hole.
“We’re certainly great friends and have played a lot of golf together, so I’m very confident in his ability.”
Although Immelman split the Canadians up in the first round’s draw on Wednesday afternoon, it’s likely they will have a chance to play together at the PGA Tour event that sees 12 Americans face 12 players from around the world, excluding Europe.
Conners, from Listowel, Ont., will partner with South Korea’s Sungjae Im against Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas in the second match of the first round. Pendrith, from Richmond Hill, Ont., will team with Chile’s Mito Pereira against Tony Finau and Max Homa in the day’s fifth match.
Pendrith said he’s enjoying sharing the honour of playing on the international team with one of his best friends.
“To be with him is really cool and comforting,” said Pendrith. “He’s probably the person I’ve played my most rounds of golf with, ever.”
Conners was an automatic selection after finishing the PGA Tour season fourth on the international team standings. He rose up from sixth after Australia’s Cam Smith and Chile’s Joaquin Niemann jumped to the Saudi-backed LIV Tour on Aug. 30, disqualifying themselves from the PGA Tour-backed Presidents Cup.
Pendrith was officially selected by Immelman on Sept. 6 after he missed four months of the PGA Tour season with a fractured rib.
The two friends have very different play styles, with Pendrith renowned for his long drives and Conners considered a surgeon with his irons.
On paper the Presidents Cup result seems like it could be a foregone conclusion.
The American team’s average world ranking is 11.58, while Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama – currently No. 17 on the world rankings _ is the highest-rated member of an international team depleted by the defections to the LIV Tour. The betting line reflects that, with oddsmakers putting the Americans as -700 favourites.
History is also not on the internationals side. The United States has won the biennial event 13 times, with the internationals winning in 1998 at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia and the two sides tying in 2003 at Fancourt Hotel and Country Club in George, South Africa.
Australia’s Adam Scott has played in nine of those losses and assistant captain Geoff Ogilvy, also from Australia, said those losses have served as a motivation for his countryman.
“He just wants to win it for everybody,” said Ogilvy, adding that Scott is like a fifth assistant captain. “It’s like he wants to win it for everybody who never got a chance to win one.”
However, the players on the international squad have combined for 33 victories on the PGA Tour, including Conners’ win at the 2019 Valero Texas Open. Assistant captain Mike Weir of Brights Grove, Ont., said there’s a lot of positivity in the international locker room.
“The mood has been great. The guys are very enthusiastic. We feel they’re up for the challenge,” said Weir. “Their games look great. There’s a great buzz in our team.”
The next Presidents Cup will be in 2024 at Royal Montreal Golf Club, which hosted the event in 2007.
Canada’s Corey Conners sits T2 after Round 2 of BMW Championship
Golf New Brunswick
By: Doug Ferguson
WILMINGTON, Del. – Adam Scott felt he was playing well enough that he should start seeing some better scores at some point. That moment appears to have arrived at just the right time.
Scott put together another tidy round Friday except for one hole _-a double bogey on the 17th – for a 2-under 69 that gave him a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the BMW Championship.
Masters champion Scottie Scheffler opened with three straight birdies and then cooled for 67, while Jordan Spieth’s hopes for a bogey-free round ended by a few inches when his tee shot caught the sticky first cut instead of the fairway. His bogey gave him a 67.
They were one shot behind, along with Cameron Young (68) and Corey Conners (67).
Scott, who was at 8-under 134, wasn’t sure how much golf would be on is plate in August. He was No. 77 in the FedEx Cup, not assured of even making it to the BMW Championship, until a tie for fifth last week in the FedEx Cup playoffs opener.
That was enough of a spark, and now he’s looking to cash in as one of the top 30 players who make it to the FedEx Cup finale next week in Atlanta for the Tour Championship.
“I’m in great shape going into the weekend. I don’t even know when the last time I led a tournament was,” Scott said.
He won at Riviera in 2020. His last 36-hole lead was at Doral for a World Golf Championship in 2016, which he went on to win.
“I certainly haven’t had my best stuff for quite a while. It’s been a battle for sure,” he said. “But that’s how this game is. I’d like to make the most of this position now over the next 36 holes.”
A brief look behind would remind him it won’t be easy, and the Australian knows this.
Spieth has looked solid over two days at Wilmington Country Club, with only one bogey in each round. He missed the cut last week and feels his postseason didn’t start until Monday when he arrived at Wilmington. That’s not just about trying to erase a bad memory.
Spieth headed to southern tip of Baja California after the British Open, wanting a break before the hectic finish to the season. One problem. Upon returning to Dallas, every course he plays was closed, and his only option was hitting from a stall in a practice facility.
Only when he arrived in Tennessee last week did he realize his swing had stayed on vacation, and his coach wasn’t available to join him until Delaware. He turned it around quickly.
“I feel like I’m doing everything good, nothing spectacular, but I feel like in every facet of my game, it’s trending and improving, and I know what to do to get it better and better,” Spieth said. “Certainly feels really good. Coming into the weekend, it’s a good opportunity to just have a lot of trust, focus on trying to win this golf tournament, not think about next week.”
Scheffler also missed the cut last week and joined Spieth and others at Pine Valley on Sunday. And then he opened with three short birdies, didn’t make too many mistakes the rest of the way and will be in the final group with Scott on Saturday.
Conner is at No. 29 and is in a great spot to protect his position for East Lake. Young seems to play great every week – twice contending in majors, five runner-up finishes for the season. One win would tick a lot of boxes on his list of goals.
Xander Schauffele holed out with a wedge on the 17th hole for an eagle and a 69, and he was in he group two shots behind that included defending champion Patrick Cantlay and Rory McIlroy, who chipped in for birdie on his final hole for another 68.
Scott didn’t get a finish quite that good. He was sailing along on a warm, breezy afternoon when he pushed his tee shot near a tree. The lie was clean, but his punch shot toward the fairway hung up in rough. From there he didn’t reach the green or get up-and-down, and all that meant a double bogey.
“It’s a good reminder for the weekend that I’ve really got to keep it under control and don’t want to have too many get off the map and get out of position around here,” Scott said.
Corey Conners excited for return of the RBC Canadian Open
TULSA, OKLAHOMA - MAY 18: Corey Conners of Canada speaks during a press conference during a practice round prior to the start of the 2022 PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club on May 18, 2022 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/PGA of America/PGA of America via Getty Images)
Golf New Brunswick
By: David Li
While Corey Conners has enjoyed notable success on the PGA TOUR over the past two seasons, perhaps his biggest regret during that time was not being able to share that success with Canadian fans on Canadian soil. But with the RBC Canadian Open returning this year, the wait is over for the Listowel, Ont., native as he will be teeing off against the best in the world next month in Toronto.
The RBC Canadian Open was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but will make its long awaited return this year at the St. George’s Golf and Country Club.
“I’ve been looking forward to coming back to Canada for some time now… Just super excited overall,” said the 30-year-old during media day earlier this month via conference call.
“To have the crowd made up of pretty much all Canadians is going to be amazing,” added the long-time Canadian National Team member. “I know the fans will be really behind all the Canadian players, and that’s something that I’m super excited about and I’ve certainly missed the last couple of years.”
According to tournament director Bryan Crawford, this year’s event will be a treat for players and fans alike. Crawford is quick to point out that the goal is to offer a best-in-class experience for everyone in attendance.
“That’s what we are aiming for, a best-in-class event for players, caddies, volunteers, partners and our fans,” he said. “It starts with a great golf course and you can’t ask for a better one than St. George’s—it’s one of the premier facilities in Canada.”
2019 champion Rory McIlroy is back this year to defend his crown and he will be joined by 2018 champ and former world no. 1 Dustin Johnson, reigning Masters champ and current world no. 1 Scottie Scheffler, and five time PGA TOUR winner, Cam Smith. Other notable names are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
Besides the star-studded line up on the golf course, this year’s tournament will feature two chart-topping musical acts on stage as Flo Rida and three-time Grammy award winner Maroon 5 are schedule to entertain fans on June 10 and June 11 respectively.
“The Concert Series was an overwhelming success in 2019 and will once again attract new fans to experience the energy and excitement of the RBC Canadian Open,” noted Golf Canada Chief Commercial Officer, John Sibley.
At the recent PGA Championship, Conners reiterated his feelings about returning to Canada in early June.
“Apart from the major championships, I don’t know if I’ve been as excited for a golf event or a PGA TOUR event in my life. I’m really excited to get back to Canada. It’s been unfortunate that we haven’t been able to get there the last couple of years,” noted the top ranked Canadian.
“I know the fans will be out in full force and supporting the Canadians, and hopefully we can put on a good show.”
Given his stellar play, Canadian golf fans are also understandably excited to see their home grown talent compete against the best in the world.
Conners has recorded some impressive results on the PGA TOUR recently including a tie for sixth place at the Masters in early April. It marked the third year in a row that the talented young Canadian has finished in the top 10 at Augusta National. He also finished in a tie for 15th place at The Open Championship which was played at the Royal St. George’s Golf Course last summer.
“Personally, I feel now like my game is a lot more refined, so I’m going to be teeing it up (in Canada) with really high expectations for myself,” Conners pointed out.
It is interesting to note that a Canadian has not won the RBC Canadian Open since Pat Fletcher did it back in 1954.
Besides Conners, there will be a talented group of Canadians eager to end that drought this year. Among those already confirmed are Adam Hadwin, Mackenzie Hughes, Nick Taylor, Taylor Pendrith, Albin Choi, Adam Svensson, Michael Gligic, Roger Sloan, Aaron Cokerill, and Brendan Leonard. More Canadian names are expected to be added in the coming weeks.