O Canada: Mackenzie Hughes, Corey Conners light up scoreboards at RSM Classic

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ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – The Great White North was well represented in Thursday’s first round of the RSM Classic as fellow Canadians Mackenzie Hughes and Corey Conners lit up the scoreboards with plenty of red numbers.

Conners, whose wife, Malory, gave birth last week to the couple’s first child, a baby girl, Reis, set his career-low for consecutive birdies and finished at 8-under 62 on the Seaside Course to sit two shots out of the lead after Thursday’s first round of the RSM Classic at windless Sea Island Golf Club.

Hughes, playing the Plantation Course, shot a 9-under 63 as Sebastian Munoz set the pace with a course-tying 60 on the Seaside Course. Hughes is no stranger to going low in these parts; he shot 61 in the first round en route to winning his lone PGA Tour title in the 2016 RSM Classic.

Zach Johnson shot 61 on the Seaside Course and Scott Stallings and Chez Reavie joined Hughes with 63’s on the Plantation Course.

“It’s been a bit hot and cold here. I’ve had obviously the very hot and I’ve had a few missed cuts here, too,” Hughes said. “The weather can be a big factor and kind of which golf course you get on which day in the wind. I felt like I’ve played OK here over the years and I’ve always felt good.

“It was nice to see a nice low score to start. I love coming to Sea Island and it will always be one of my favorite stops.”

No one was hotter during any stretch of time Thursday than Conners, whose lone Tour title came in the 2019 Valero Texas Open. Starting on the fifth, he made six consecutive birdies, the longest coming from 5 feet.

“It’s pretty enjoyable, can’t lie,” Conners said of his birdie blitz. “I was striking the ball really, really well and it’s definitely fun. I was driving it in the fairway and gave myself some short clubs into the holes and was able to knock them tight.

“It always feels good. It felt pretty easy. Felt like my ball‑striking was really strong today, I hit it close a lot of times. And not disappointed with the score whatsoever, but I had a lot of really close calls on some other birdie putts that could have went in, but fantastic round and, yeah, quite happy.”

He’s ecstatic about becoming a father.

“It was amazing,” he said of the birth. “My wife and baby are doing great. Kind of a last‑minute addition to come up here, so I feel like it’s a bonus to be here. My wife’s doing really well. She has some family at home helping her out, and she’s a saint for letting me come up here and play and I’m looking forward to having a fun rest of the week and then being a dad for a little while.

“Yes, I’ve been sleeping a little better than (Malory) this week. Feel for her, but she’s amazing and they’re both cheering me on.”

Conditions are likely to stiffen for Friday’s second round as high winds are expected. With that in mind, many of the players knew the first round was the day to go low.

“I saw the forecast today and then the next few days and kind of thought that this was going to be a day that a score was to be had. You know, you never know you’re going to shoot 9 under, but was definitely trying to be a bit more aggressive with my mindset today,” Hughes said. “Just one of those days where I had a lot of things working really well. As a golfer you always walk off saying, wow, it could have been really low. It was one of those days where it could have been very, very low, but I’m very thrilled with the start.”

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Check the yardage book: Sea Island's Seaside Course for the PGA Tour's RSM Classic

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