Corey Conners of Canada reaches US Amateur semifinals

Ontario native Corey Conners, pitching out on No. 1 Friday, wants to bring home Canada’s fourth title at a US Amateur.
john mummert/usga
Ontario native Corey Conners, pitching out on No. 1 Friday, wants to bring home Canada’s fourth title at a US Amateur.

Maple leaf emblems are stitched to his hat, golf bag and T-shirt and also wrapped under the heels of his white leather shoes.

Corey Conners, a semifinalist in the US Amateur, is here to represent Canada.

And perhaps get a bit of revenge.


Earlier this month, the 21-year-old Ontario native was runner-up in the Canadian Amateur. Eli Cole, from Beverly Hills, Calif., finished first.

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“A bunch of people back home said, ‘Well, they won our championship,’ ” Conners said. “So go win theirs.”

Conners advanced on Friday by defeating England’s Neil Raymond, 5 and 3, in the quarterfinals at The Country Club in Brookline.

All square through eight, Conners won five straight holes, capped by a birdie on the par-4 13th.

“I had a solid day, but luckily I was able to capitalize on some of the mistakes he made,” Conners said.


Throughout the tournament — which no longer features an American participant — much chatter has surrounded English contenders.

An Englishman last won this event in 1911. Conners will face England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick on Saturday.

At 5 feet 9 inches and nine stones (“I don’t know how to translate that into pounds,” he joked), the 18-year-old Fitzpatrick (at 126 pounds) is England’s last hope.

Canada, too, is overdue. A Canadian has won the US Amateur only three times, most recently Gary Cowan — in 1971.

Canada has produced a handful of stars on the PGA Tour. Yet Mike Weir is the only Canadian man to win a major, capturing the Masters in 2003.


“I remember his final putt,” said Conners, who was 11 when Weir won. “I couldn’t even watch the TV I was so excited.”

Conners, the top-ranked amateur in Canada, represents the country’s next generation of stars.

In January, Canada won the Copa de las Americas, a team event in Miami.

“The national program is producing all this talent right now,” said Garrett Rank, one of 11 Canadians in the US Amateur.

“It’s kind of a hidden secret or hidden gem. But we know we have players to make noise at events like this.”

Rank didn’t advance to match play, but stuck around to caddie for Conners.

Conners, a senior at Kent State, did not use a caddie for stroke play. But he was already sharing a hotel room with Rank, on the same floor as Derek Ingram, the coach of Canada’s national team.

“I don’t know if he asked me to be his caddie,’’ Rank said. “Or, probably, I just said, ‘I’m caddying for you, big guy.’ ”

Rank and Conners are good friends. They grew up about 20 minutes apart in small towns (both with a population of less than 12,000). Both national team members, Rank and Conners spent nearly eight weeks together this summer at various tournaments.

Rank experienced immense national pride when he finished second at the 2012 US Mid-Amateur Championship.

“It was really cool last year to feel the whole country behind me,” Rank said. “Now it’s Corey’s turn. Obviously Canada’s a little abuzz right now.”

Conners parents and girlfriend did not make the trip. He’s received support from them — as well as hundreds of his other closest friends.

“Well, some people have sent me messages on Facebook I haven’t heard from in a while,” Conners said. “But it’s nice to know people are out there supporting.”

After gaining the lead Friday, Conners struggled on the 14th hole. Twice his ball rolled down the hill short of the green. He ended up conceding the hole.

Rank, who joked around with Conners all afternoon — “To make him smile or relax is pretty much my job,” Rank said — wanted to make sure his friend didn’t lose focus.

“He counted a four but he probably would’ve had it to hit it six or seven times to get it in,” Rank said. “So I told him, ‘Oh buddy, that was a good five there.’ ”

Then, like a true Canadian, Rank added: “Pretty funny, eh?”

Emily Kaplan can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @emilymkaplan.