World golf ranking helps Canada's Conners prepare for majors like this week's Open

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Becoming one of the top 30 male golfers in the world has changed how Corey Conners plans his year, especially how he prepares for majors.

Conners, from Listowel, Ont., and Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont., will tee off at the British Open on Thursday, the final major of the year. Derek Ingram, Golf Canada's men's coach, said that knowing Conners would be highly ranked and qualify for all four majors was an advantage heading into the season.

"We've been preparing for majors a little bit more than a regular tournament," said Ingram on Wednesday after Conners' practice round of the Old Course at St. Andrews Links. "They're definitely on his radar and something that he wants to win and do great in.

"One of the simplest things is, we've been talking about schedule months ago."

To that end, Conners played in last week's Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club. He tied for 61st at the event in North Berwick, Scotland, on Sunday at 7 over.

Ingram said that playing in the Scottish Open, instead of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship that ran at the same time, accomplished two things for Conners.

"It's more about the course type and trying to play some links style golf with maybe some higher winds and firmer fairways, etc. Flowing greens, you know, more pot bunkers," said Ingram, who arrived in Britain on Sunday to watch Conners' final round at the Scottish Open before travelling to the British Open together.

"It's more about course type but certainly, it's an added bonus to get in the same time zone."

Conners, No. 29 in the official world golf rankings, will tee off with Americans Zach Johnson and Billy Horschel. Hughes, who is 71st in the world, is grouped with Zimbabwe's Scott Vincent and France's Victor Perez.

Ingram said that Monday and Tuesday were the biggest days in terms of practice for Conners at the British Open, with Wednesday more about fine tuning.

"You want to taper the quantity of work you're doing and have higher quality," said Ingram. "So we got up early, had a good warm up, played nine holes, did a lot of practice around the greens with the putter, because there's not a lot of pitching in."

According to Ingram, the weather is the Old Course's defence. High winds will make lofted shots with wedges potentially dangerous, so bump and runs around the greens are critical. He added that keeping out of fairway bunkers will be important because they will amount to a one-shot penalty.

Given the conditions, Ingram likes Conners' chances to win his first-ever major.

"When you're one of the best ball strikers in the world and you drive it straight, and you hit the middle of the clubface almost every time with your irons, it's going to be a strength at every course in the world," said Ingram. "I think in the wind even more so."

PGA TOUR — Taylor Pendrith of Richmond Hill, Ont., tied for 13th at last week's Barbasol Championship, his first PGA Tour event since March's Players' Championship where he fractured his rib. Sitting 107th in the FedEx Cup standings, Pendrith is the top-ranked Canadian at the Barracuda Championship at Tahoe Mountain Club's Old Greenword course. He'll be joined by Roger Sloan of Merritt, B.C., Aaron Cockerill of Stony Mountain, Man., David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., and Michael Gligic of Burlington, Ont., in Truckee, Calif.

KORN FERRY TOUR — Toronto's Albin Choi is ranked No. 115 on the second-tier Korn Ferry Tour heading into this week's Memorial Health Championship in Springfield, Ill. Vancouver's Stuart Macdonald, No. 123 on the tour, will also be in the field at Panther Creek Country Club.

LPGA TOUR — Maddie Szeryk of London, Ont., and Hamilton's Alena Sharp were tied for 12th at 1-under 69 on Wednesday after the first round of the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational in Midland, Mich. Maude-Aimee Leblanc of Sherbrooke, Que., was tied for 30th at 1 over and Savannah Grewal of Mississauga, Ont., was tied for 43rd at 2 over.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 13, 2022.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press

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