SAN ANTONIO -- Canada's Corey Conners delivered a roller coaster final round to win his first professional title at the Valero Texas Open on Sunday and book a fairytale berth at next week's Masters at Augusta.
The 27-year-old from Ontario only made it into the San Antonio tournament after battling through qualifying last Monday, where he won a six-way playoff to claim the final slot in the field.
But the unheralded Canadian completed a remarkable week at TPC San Antonio's AT&T Oaks Course by firing a six-under-par 66 to finish two shots clear of Charley Hoffman, with a 20-under-par total of 268.
With Sunday's final round delayed by nearly two hours after heavy rain deluged the course, Conners quickly moved to the top of the leaderboard with four birdies in his opening five holes to eclipse overnight leader Kim Si-woo who struggled to get going.
But Conners' smooth start unravelled with a run of four consecutive bogeys on the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth holes as he reached the turn at level par for the day.
That protracted wobble opened the door to veterans Hoffman and Ryan Moore, who were both mounting final day charges to storm up the leaderboard.
Conners responded brilliantly after the turn however, reeling off three birdies on the 10th, 11th and 12th holes before moving one shot clear of the field at the 14th with his eighth birdie of the day.
Conners then rolled in a pressure-filled 10-foot par putt to preserve his lead on the 15th heading to the final three holes.
A superb 7-iron to six feet set up a birdie on the short par-three 16th and after Hoffman could only send his own birdie attempt rolling wide, Conners was suddenly two shots clear with two to play.
It got better on the par-four 17th, with Conners curling a 12-foot birdie putt to take him three clear heading to the 18th.
With that commanding lead, Conners was never going to be denied and played the last conservatively to bag a comfortable par.
The victory will have a transformative effect on Conners' season, securing his PGA Tour card while gaining entry to several prestige event in addition to next week's Masters.
Hoffman meanwhile will also head to the Masters in good spirits after posting an impressive five-under-par 67 in the final round.
Moore meanwhile played flawlessly to card a closing eight-under-par 64, comprised of an eagle, six birdies and 11 pars.
Overnight leader Kim's challenge faltered with a shaky front nine that included a double-bogey and a bogey to leave him two over at the turn after leading for the first three days. Kim finally carded a level-par 72, to leave himself five off the lead in a tie for fourth with Brian Stuard.
© Agence France-Presse
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