Conners, Monday qualifier, firmly in mix at Valero Texas OpenTrails leader Kim by one shot entering final round at TPC San Antonio
April 06, 2019
By Adam Schupak, PGATOUR.COM
- April 06, 2019
Corey Conners Round 3 highlights from Valero
SAN ANTONIO -- For the third straight round, Si Woo Kim is the leader of the Valero Texas Open, but he's got plenty of company.
Kim, the 23-year-old from South Korea, built a 4-stroke lead, the largest at the halfway point of a PGA TOUR tournament this season, with a pair of 66s. It was gone by the fifth hole on Saturday as Canadian Corey Conners, a Monday qualifier, made his move on Moving Day.
Kim, the 2017 THE PLAYERS Championship winner, weathered a rainstorm early in the round, nearly aced the 16th hole for the second day in a row and made birdie at the final hole to shoot 3-under 69 and take a one-stroke lead over Conners.
"It's a tough day. First six holes, like rain and windy," Kim said. "Back nine weather is better and a little bit of pressure. Yeah, still feels great and looking forward to tomorrow."
Conners, 27, carried his strong play at the end of Friday into Saturday's action and said he was in the zone. He birdied four of his last five holes in the second round and five of his first seven holes in the third round.
"Corey's first six holes were crazy -- like every shot right on it and then putted good," Kim said.
The rain didn't seem to bother Conners either.
"I just tried to block it out really and just focus, take a deep breath and just be really committed to the shot and not worry about what was falling from the sky because it was raining pretty good on a few of those approach shots," he said.
Conners is the last man to qualify for the Valero Texas Open. Playing out of the 126-150 category on the TOUR this season, he spent Monday at The Club at Sonterra, where 73 players attempted to earn one of four spots into the field. Conners survived a 6-for-1 playoff and is attempting to become the first Monday Qualifier to won on TOUR since Arjun Atwal at the 2010 Wyndham Championship
"I feel like I belong in the field," said Conners, who has two top-5 finishes and ranks No. 66 in the FedExCup.
Kim made four birdies after opening the day with a bogey at the first hole. One day after acing the par-3 16th, Kim nearly did it again. He planted his palms to the top of his head in disappointment when the ball hopped over the hole and stopped inside 4 feet away.
"I thought first bounce and then, oh, that's going in, but just missed it," Kim said.
Instead, the hole-in-one heroics on Saturday came courtesy of Nick Taylor, who aced the 221-yard 13th hole with a 4-iron.
"It might have been my first solid swing of the day," said Taylor, who shot 1-under 71.
Charley Hoffman, the 2016 Valero Texas Open champion, soared up the leaderboard with a tournament-low 8-under 64, and trails by two strokes.
Scott Brown, who was born in Augusta, Ga., and played his first 21 holes in even par, posted 5-under 67 and is tied with K.H. Lee (69) and Jhonnattan Vegas (67) at 11-under 203. FedExCup points-leader Matt Kuchar moved into the top 10 with a 5-under 67.
Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler both fell out of contention, shooting 1-over 73. The secondary cut came at 1-under 215.
The final round of the Valero Texas Open is setting up to be an old-fashioned shootout. Kim, who has won twice, including his signature win at THE PLAYERS, is trying to go wire-to-wire while Conners, in his second season on TOUR, is seeking his first victory.
"I've been in this position a few times before where I've been near the lead and I've got some good experiences to draw off of and hopefully can get over the edge," Conners said.
Si Woo Kim keeps the solo lead at Valero