Canada’s Corey Conners wins Valero Texas Open

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS - APRIL 02: Corey Conners of Canada speaks to the media after winning the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio on April 02, 2023 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images)

SAN ANTONIO – When Corey Conners won the Valero Texas Open in 2019 he got a pair of cowboy boots instead of a trophy.

Sometimes, especially during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, he would wear them around his Florida home.

Conners now has some footwear options after winning the Texas Open for the second time in five years on Sunday, closing with a 4-under 68 for a one-stroke victory over rookie Sam Stevens.

“I get a brown pair for winning the second time so at least I don’t have two black pairs,” said Conners with a laugh. “Maybe I’ll just switch it up and wear the brown pair around.”

Also the 2019 winner, Conners had a 15-under 273 total on TPC San Antonio’s Oaks Course. The 31-year-old from Listowel, Ont., now heads to the Masters, where he tied for sixth last year for his second straight top-10 finish at Augusta National.

He said that the two wins in San Antonio played out very differently for him.

“Today, I was definitely more in control. I feel like I made some mistakes in 2019,” said Conners after a bogey-free final round. “I also made a lot of really good shots in an up and down roller-coaster round in 2019.

“Today was a little more steady. Part of my plan was to be as steady as I could. Just get in play. Give myself lots of looks.”

Conners joins Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont., and Adam Svensson of Surrey, B.C., as Canadians who have won on the PGA Tour this season.

It’s expected that Conners will move up to No. 18 on the FedEx Cup standings when they’re updated Monday.

Those three will all be at the Masters, joining Mike Weir of Brights Grove, Ont., making it the first time that four Canadians are playing in the Masters, the first major of the men’s golf season.

“It’s really exciting,” said Conners, who represented Canada at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics with Hughes. “Excited to get a (practice round) with Mack and the other guys on Tuesday. We’ve all been playing great.”

A shot behind Patrick Rodgers starting play, Conners had a three-shot lead after he birdied No. 15. Stevens eagled the 17th, but missed a nine-foot birdie putt at 18 that would have tied it. Connors ended it with a three-foot par putt on 18.

Stevens shot a 66. Sam Ryder (66) and Matt Kuchar (68) followed at 13-under.

Rodgers saw a chance for his first tour victory and first Masters spot slip away. He shot a 73 to finish fifth at 11-under.

Conner’s best finish since hoisting the 2019 Texas Open trophy was a third-place effort at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last year.

Conners led after the first round with a 64 when the weather-delayed opening 18 finished Friday. But his second-round 72 dropped him three behind Rodgers after 36 holes, which Conners cut to a stroke with his third-round 69.

Stevens was third last week at the PGA Tour’s stop in the Dominican Republic.