Conners is no stranger to the big stage – he finished as a semi-finalist at last year’s U.S. Men’s Amateur, for one. Although that accomplishment alone is impressive, the 21-year-old was still yearning for that big win.
The National Team member calmly displays a strong amount of confidence both on and off the golf course. It’s not often you see him give a tiger-esque fist pump or the popular club twirl. It’s more likely the Kent State senior masks his emotions until the round is complete. Having that skillset is very valuable in high-pressure situations, which Conners found himself in when he relinquished a lead on Sunday to enter a playoff in one of the most prestigious amateur events in the world
GC: Tell us what was going through your head in the hours after the big win?
CC: Obviously it’s a pretty awesome feeling. It’s a very prestigious event and I am very excited to get the win and also looking forward to the rest of the season here at school. I have a lot of confidence moving forward.
GC: Would you say this is the biggest win of your career?
CC: I’ve had some pretty special moments on the golf course but to be able to win a big tournament like the Jones Cup is a really great feeling. It’s definitely at the top for me.
GC: Do you feel like you’ve been chasing this win for a while?
CC: You know what (he hesitates).. I’ve been very proud of how I have played in big events, going back to the U.S. Men’s Am in the summer. It’s never fun to lose in a spot like that but it never really bothered me too much.
GC: What happened on the 18th hole?
The 18th hole is so difficult – it’s a long par-5 into the wind on the final day. I played some great golf throughout the week so I tried to keep my composure and just stick to my game plan. I actually thought I had a two-shot lead so that tells you I wasn’t paying too much attention to the leaderboard.
GC: Was anyone caddying for you?
CC: No. I carried my own bag – I’m used to caddying for myself in collegiate events so it’s not a big deal for me. Also, I didn’t have anyone like Garrett (Rank) available (he said with a laugh). Rank, also a National Team member, caddied for Conners at the 2013 U.S. Men’s Amateur.
GC: What was your game plan for this course?
CC: Ocean Forest is so difficult, you can really make yourself look silly by putting yourself in the wrong position. I played the course last year so I already had some great notes in my yardage book. Walking the course with DI (Derek Ingram) was awesome, just really talked about the best places to leave the ball around the green. Basically put a lot of focus on putting the ball in the fairway off the tee and then making smart decisions from there.
GC: Who was the first person you called after the win?
First person I called was Derek – he was unable to stay the full day. After that, I called my girlfriend. My cell phone wasn’t actually working right after the tournament so I had a bunch of texts come in later on.
GC: What’s next for you?
I’m back at school now. We’ve just started our practices and basically going at it every day. Our first college event is the start of March so I’ve got a little bit of time to let it sink in and keep working hard to keep my game in top shape.
Men’s National Team Head Coach Derek Ingram weighs in on the big win
Men’s National Team Head Coach, Derek Ingram, was in Georgia assisting Conners at the event. He couldn’t be more excited for his student and the very bright future that is ahead of him.
“I’m so thrilled for him it’s one of the biggest amateur events in the world and this is one of the best wins we have ever had with the program” he said enthusiastically. “We got into a really nice routine where we would assess the round and study the greens – he’s very smart, you know. He has such a great golf IQ”.
He also went on to describe Conners’ mental game and how that helped in his win.
“He really managed his emotions and adrenaline level which also made a really big difference for him. It couldn’t have happened to a better guy”.