A Gap in One Pushes Corey Conners Up the Masters Leaderboard

AUGUSTA, Ga. — The previous man working close to No. 2 knew. He needed to have recognized, as a result of everybody knew.

The roar on Saturday afternoon had all of the hallmarks of a basic second being made on the Masters Event: the sharp carry of noise as one thing sensational unfolded someplace on the 345 acres, the percussion when the attainable turned a certainty, after which the fading echoes among the many pines.

“Which gap?” the person requested.

The reply, it turned out, was the sixth, the place Corey Conners had picked up a pair of strokes with a gap in a single, the sixth there within the historical past of the match at Augusta Nationwide Golf Membership. His tee shot with an eight-iron, coming proper after a bogey, had landed simply past the bunker. The ball took three bounces, each smaller than the final. Then physics took over in per week when Augusta’s greens have been in comparison with glass.

It took maybe 4 seconds for the ball to enter the cup from the time it struck the inexperienced — so quick that Conners had scarcely moved within the tee field. He raised his arms in exultation. He leaned backward and pumped his proper fist. He accepted congratulations from Collin Morikawa, his companion for the day.

“It didn’t look like the wind was serving to as a lot as I anticipated, however, fortuitously, it flew far sufficient,” Conners, who entered Saturday at two underneath par on the match, stated afterward. “I used to be making an attempt to fly it someplace over the bunker and get it to go in, get it to go near the outlet.”

“I believe I hit the pin with just a little little bit of steam,” he added, “however it was proper within the center, so fairly particular second.”

He completed Saturday with a 68, 4 underneath par, and will likely be in rivalry when the match holds its ultimate spherical on Sunday, thanks in no small half to his star activate No. 6.

“Each shot makes a giant distinction,” stated Charles Coody, who received the Masters in 1971 and used a five-iron for a gap in a single on No. 6 the next 12 months. “He’s been taking part in properly of late, so I’m fairly positive he’ll have a superb probability.”

Augusta Nationwide’s No. 16 surrenders much more holes in a single than every other on the course, and it gave up one on Thursday to Tommy Fleetwood. However the sixth gap has seen greater than any spot however the sixteenth.

“It’s pretty degree over there whenever you’re hitting from the tee and all the things,” Coody stated of the sixth gap on Saturday, when he watched the match on tv. “You’re hitting into just a bit of the upslope, which helps you maintain the inexperienced just a little higher.”

Conners, a 29-year-old Canadian with a single P.G.A. Tour victory to his identify, has had, like so many golfers, a sophisticated relationship with Augusta Nationwide. In his first look, in 2015, he missed the reduce however confirmed promise: a first-round 80, a second-round 69. 4 years later, he tied for forty sixth after a misery-filled ultimate spherical. In November, when the pandemic-delayed Masters was performed, he scored a 65 within the second spherical, essential to tying for tenth ultimately.

This 12 months’s situations have been far completely different.

“It’s obtained much more velocity to it,” he stated of the course on Tuesday. “The greens are rolling faster. Needed to regulate a few of the notes in my e book to play much more break within the greens, and sure spots across the inexperienced the place you possibly had an opportunity in November, you don’t have a lot of an opportunity proper now.”

He had simply completed a observe spherical with Mike Weir, the 2003 Masters winner and the one son of Canada ever to win certainly one of golf’s main tournaments. Weir regaled Conners with tales of victory — and provided a number of ideas, one of many traditions of the Masters.

However on Saturday, the afternoon after the reduce, Weir was now not within the area. It was Conners’s flip to stir a roar.

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