In the end, Corey Conners just couldn't get past the last match.
Despite a valiant effort over 35 holes, the Canadian came up just short in the final of the U.S. Amateur, losing 2 & 1 to South Korea's Gunn Yang.
It was the second time in two weeks that a Canadian golfer had reached the final of an American championship.
Last Sunday, Brooke Henderson lost the final of the women's championship.
“It was a long day, fun match,” Conners said after accepting the runner-up medal. “Pretty tough fought. It was hard to win holes. Birdies are hard to come by out here and Gunn played fantastic golf.”
Conners was never up in the match, losing the first two holes of the day.
It was a bit of an uncharacteristic opening for Conners, who is generally good at hitting fairways and greens. He was in nine bunkers over the first 18, which prompted some good-natured ribbing from pal and caddie Taylor Pendrith.
“He was making fun of me because he had to rake all those bunkers,” Conners chuckled. “He said his limit on the second 18 was going to be five.”
After the first 18, he'd managed to cut Yang's lead in half. When the duo returned for the second 18, Conners quickly put the contest to all square with a birdie on the first hole. However Yang birdied six and seven and never looked back, eventually closing Conners out on the 35th-hole.
“It stings a little bit to lose the final match, but [I] played some good golf today,” said Conners, who received congratulatory messages from Graham DeLaet and Marlene Streit, among others. “Just wasn't meant to be.”
Conners admitted that his game in the final wasn't as sharp as what got him through the previous five matches. He said he simply couldn't get putts to drop despite putting good rolls on the ball.
“I thought I hit nice putts,” he said. “They just slipped by and that was kind of frustrating not to have any of those drop and win some holes.”
After losing in the semi-final last year, there is some consolation for Conners this year. His finish earns him spots in the Masters and the U.S. Open. The only catch is that he has to remain an amateur. While never firm in his plans, Conners admitted earlier this year that he was looking at turning professional after the World Team Amateur Championships in September.
“The next eight or nine months, I'm not too sure what's going to happen,” said Conners, who was cheered on by a large contingent from his home club in Listowel, Ont. “I have some planning to do, but yeah, I don't know. I haven't really thought about that too much.”
Despite making it so far and then falling just short, Conners was still happy with his performance.
“It feels great, and I know looking back on last year, how special of a week it was and I'm sure it will be the same thing this week," he said. "Pretty proud and happy with my play and was an exciting week.”