Friday, March 09, 2018

Corey Connors - who? - leads Valspar Championship Round 1

2018 Valspar Championship 
(The 18th of 44 events in the PGA TOUR Season)

Palm Harbor, Florida                                         March 8-11, 2018          Purse: $6,500,000 (winner: $1,170,000)
Innisbrook Resort & GC (Copperhead Course)                                 
Par/Yards: 36-35 - 71/7,340

First-Round Notes – Thursday, March 8, 2018

Weather: Partly cloudy, with a high of 64. Wind NW 15-20 mph.

      First-Round Leaderboard
Corey Conners
Whee Kim
Kelly Kraft
Nick Watney


Corey Conners
US PGA TOUR rookie and Canada native Corey Conners made four birdies and one bogey en route to a 4-under 67. When he blocked his approach shot into the greenside bunker at the par-4 18th, he was unable to get up and down to save par.

Conners, who came into the week as third alternate (reserve), received his spot in the field when Kyle Stanley withdrew. He learned of his spot in the field after shooting a 71 in the Monday Qualifier, which would have not been enough to play his way in. The last alternate (reserve) to win on the US PGA TOUR was Vaughn Taylor at the 2016 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Before this week, Conners’ best position after any round on the PGA TOUR was T21 at The Honda Classic two weeks ago (T59).

In relation to par, Conners’ 4-under 67 ties his low round of the season (40 rounds).

Conners is making his 11th start of the 2017-18 PGA TOUR Season, with a T29 at the Farmers Insurance Open being his best finish.

Conners made his way to the PGA TOUR this season by virtue of a 41st-place finish on the 2017 Tour priority list. On that Tour in 2017, he claimed three top-10 finishes in 23 starts.

Conners, 26, hails from Listowel, Ontario, Canada and joins fellow Canadian National Team and Kent State Flashes alum Mackenzie Hughes on TOUR this season.

While at Kent State, Conners studied actuary math, which is the study of the financial consequences of risk.

First-Round Lead Notes
Following an 8-under 63 in 2002, K.J. Choi is the only first-round leader of the event to hang on for the win.

Through 17 events in the 2017-18 PGA TOUR Season, five players with at least a share of the 18-hole lead have converted for the win. The last to do so was Jon Rahm at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January.

Whee Kim
Making his third start in the Valspar Championship, South Korea’s Whee Kim made five birdies and two bogeys to open with a 3-under 68. He comes to Innisbrook this week following a withdrawal in 2017 and T53 in 2016. Thursday’s 68 marks his first sub-par score in the event (six rounds).

Kim, who lost in a playoff at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open early in the season, comes into this week on the heels of six consecutive missed cuts.

Kim is in search of his first career PGA TOUR title in his 89th start this week.

Whee Kim Quotes
Hit 3-wood off the tee. Tried to focus on hitting the fairways. Wind blew hard this morning and it was cold, was like 50 degrees and blew 20 miles, sometimes gust 25 miles. Feels like 40 degrees in the morning. When it's cold, it was also hard to control the distance because it was cold and windy. But I thought I have more chance to hit more greens and have more short putts to make the birdie or par if I can hit more fairways. 
Just focus on hit the fairway. I think I did pretty good. I think I did pretty good around the greens too. Just one miss on No. 13, par 3. Left side of the green, little over, little short, and made a two-putt. Was still good putt but just missed it. (Note: More quote available on

Kelly Kraft
With five birdies and two bogeys, Kelly Kraft opened with a 3-under 68 in his second start at the Valspar Championship (T65/2017). This marks the fourth occasion (of 12) on which he has opened a PGA TOUR event this season with a sub-par score.

Kraft, who missed the cut in four of his last six starts, comes to this week’s Valspar Championship after finishing T8 at The Honda Classic two weeks ago. 

Kraft made a return to the PGA TOUR this season by virtue of a 72nd-place finish on last season’s FedExCup points list.
In 71 TOUR starts, Kraft’s closest brush with victory was a solo-second at the 2017 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Nick Watney
Despite a bogey at his first hole of the day, No. 10, Nick Watney used three birdies and an eagle-3 at No. 1 to post a 3-under 68. He took a second bogey at the par-3 17th.

After making five starts in 2015-16, Watney’s season ended due to back injury. He played the 2016-17 season on a Major Medical Extension, with 21 available events to earn 355 FedExCup points or $528,010. He ended up ranked 120th in the FedExCup standings to maintain his fully-exempt status for the 2017-18 season.

In eight starts this season prior to this week, Watney’s best finish was a T26 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Watney is the winner of five PGA TOUR events, but hasn’t won since THE NORTHERN TRUST in 2012.

Tiger Woods
In his first start at the Valspar Championship, Tiger Woods made five birdies (Nos. 1, 8, 10, 11 and 17) against four bogeys (Nos. 4, 9, 12 and 13) to open with a 1-under 70.

In four starts this season, this marks his first occasion to open with a sub-par score.

Woods played the “Snake Pit” holes, Nos. 16-18 in 1-under (par-birdie-par).

In rounds one and two, Woods is paired with Henrik Stenson and Jordan Spieth. The last time Woods and Spieth were paired together was the second round of the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open, when Woods posted a then-career-high 11-over 82 (in a non-major and as a professional).

Woods is making his fourth start of the 2017-18 PGA TOUR Season; T23/Farmers Insurance Open, MC/Genesis Open and 12th/The Honda Classic.

Woods is searching for his 80th career US PGA TOUR title and first win since the 2013 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. His last top-10 finish, a T10, came at the 2015 Wyndham Championship.

Miscellaneous Notes
Defending Valspar Championship winner Adam Hadwin opened with an even-par 71. En route to his win last year, Hadwin was six strokes back after round one at 3-under 68.

Following a birdie at the first hole, 2015 Valspar Championship winner Jordan Spieth took six bogeys en route to 5-over 76. He has now posted an opening-round score of par-or-higher in four of five starts at the Valspar Championship. Last year, he also posted 76 before ultimately finishing T18. Thursday’s 76 also marks his fifth consecutive opening round in the 70s on TOUR this season.

In his first start at the Valspar Championship, Rory McIlroy opened with a 3-over 74. He opened with 10 straight pars, before taking a bogey at the par-4 second hole, a double-bogey-seven at No. 5, a birdie at the par-4 seventh and a bogey at the par-4 ninth. He hit just six of 13 fairways and found only seven of 18 greens in regulation. McIlroy has now opened with an over-par score in five of his last seven starts on the PGA TOUR.



Post a Comment

<< Home

Copyright © Colin Farquharson

If you can't find what you are looking for.... please check the Archive List or search this site with Google