Math major Conners off to hot start this season on TOUR
January 16, 2019
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
Corey Conners' ace is the Shot of the Day
It’s probably safe to say that Corey Conners is the only player on the PGA TOUR who can interpret all those mortality tables that show the probability of a person at a certain age dying before his or her next birthday.
That’s just one of the things you learn when you pursue a college degree in actuarial mathematics, though. You also study financial theory and statistics, along with math, in order to better analyze and manage risk and its implications, particularly for insurance and pension programs.
But Conners didn’t even know what an actuary did when he enrolled at Kent State in 2010. The Canadian was actually thinking about becoming a pharmacist or an optometrist, or maybe even a doctor like his grandfather and his twin sister Nicole, who is currently in medical school.
Unfortunately, those three-hour labs for science courses Conners was taking didn’t leave much time to hit the practice range or play a quick 18 with his teammates on the Golden Flashes golf team.
Conners’ plans changed when he was a sophomore, though.
“Our coach was bragging, we've got this smart guy coming in to take a math degree, an actuary, and I started looking up what it was, and I was like, oh, this stuff's pretty cool,” Conners recalled. “Math and finance — two things that I also liked as well as the sciences.
“So, I said, well, maybe I'll look into that.”
Conners started taking some math and finance courses, liked them and eventually switched his major. His graduating class in actuarial math was pretty small, just seven or eight others, but Conners enjoyed the challenge and the camaraderie.
“I've always been fascinated by math, and it was a great program to study in college,” Conners explained. “It was definitely a lot of work. Had to keep on top of things and be really organized, missing a lot of school when the team would travel.
“Hopefully I'll never have to fall back on that degree, but it's some fascinating stuff that I really enjoy as well.”
The 27-year-old plotted his path to golf early. He grew up in Listowel, a town of about 7,000 in southwestern Ontario about two hours west of Toronto that is known for, among other things, its two-week Irish festival called “Paddyfest.”
Conners played hockey in the winter, a game he still loves — his favorite team is the Toronto Maple Leafs — and then switched to golf in the summer. He didn’t give up on the ice until he was 18 years old and played on a team that won a provincial championship.
“I was a center all my life and the last few years, I switched to defense,” Conners said. “The coaching staff decided they needed someone with some brains on the back end of it to make some safe plays and keep the puck out of our net.”
He was equally adept at getting the that little white ball in the hole, though.
When Conners was 12 years old, he started working at Listowel Golf Club. The facility had 27 holes and the teenager was there pretty much every day the club was open. As he got more serious about the game, Conners and his father even found an indoor range about an hour away where he could practice in the dead of winter.
“It was really cool growing up there,” Conners said. “We were really fortunate to have such a great golf facility. … If I grew up in a town without a golf course who knows what would have happened.
“I get a lot of support from back home and it feels really special. I’m trying to put it on the map a little bit and make people proud back home.”
So far the golf gig is working out pretty well, too.
Conners heads into this week’s Desert Challenge with momentum on the heels of tie for third at the Sony Open in Hawaii, his second top-three finish of the season. Thanks to those standout finishes, the man who finished 130th in the FedExCup as a rookie last year now clocks in at very solid No. 19.
So while his classmates might be working in insurance offices or as consultants, the newly-married Conners is living his dream.
“They all have pretty nice jobs right now, as do I,” he said with a smile.