Conners thrilled to keep 'wild' ride going with first-round 70 at Augusta

An ecstatic Corey Conners could barely stop smiling after claiming the early clubhouse lead on day one of the Masters to continue his dream fortnight.

Conners only qualified for last week’s Texas Open after coming through a six-man play-off for the final spot, but he then won that tournament – earning his first PGA Tour title – to secure a second trip to Augusta, where he played as an amateur in 2015. 

The Canadian duly went out in the first group on Thursday, alongside Andrew Landry and Adam Long, and carded a two-under 70 to set the early pace.

“It’s been wild. Definitely unexpected, but I’ve been playing some good golf and I’m really excited to be here,” said a grinning Conners, who was three under and the sole leader at one point before finishing with a bogey at the 18th.

“It’s an honour to be playing in the Masters and I’m just trying to keep riding the good play. I had a great day out there today, a lot of fun, and hit some quality shots. I’m excited for the rest of the week. It’s been a bit crazy the last week, but everything’s been great and I’m just trying to really enjoy the experience.

“Everything’s still high, a lot of positive emotions. I didn’t really sleep much the beginning of the week, but I felt energised just with the positive things that have happened. This is a great place to be and I’m just really enjoying it.”

Prior to playing in the opening group, Conners was able to see Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player officially get the tournament under way in their role as honorary starters.

“It was pretty cool,” Conners added. “I was able to stand on the back of the tee and watch them tee off. I really appreciate what they’ve done for the game of golf. It was a really cool experience to be a part of.

“I just tried to soak it in and really enjoy it, and then being in the first group, following them out, was pretty special as well.”

As Conners spoke to the media on Thursday, Justin Harding and Patton Kizzire had climbed above him on the leaderboard. Harding was four under with a hole to play, while Kizzire was three under as he neared the turn.