2015 Azalea Invitational Preview: Top-ranked Conners highlights deep field
Corey Conners
Corey Conners

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Two participants in this year's Masters Tournament will showcase their game at the Azalea Invitational, kicking off Thursday at the Country Club of Charleston.

The most notable of the duo is 2014 U.S. Amateur runner-up Corey Conners of Canada, who is the No. 1 ranked amateur golfer in the world according to the Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com rankings.

Conners, the former Kent State golfer who already has a win in 2015 under his belt at the Lake Macquarie Amateur in Australia, will be playing in his first Azalea Invitational.

Also prepping their game for The Masters is 2014 U.S. Mid-Amateur winner Scott Harvey of Greensboro, North Carolina. Harvey, 36, knocked off Brad Nurski at Saucon Valley to earn his first trip to The Masters. He has claimed two victories already in 2015, including the South American Amateur and the rain-shortened Gasparilla Invitational.

Harvey tied for 31st in the 2014 event and was runner-up to 2013 champion Austin Langdale a year before.

Langdale, now a sophomore at Clemson University, will be in the field looking for his second Azalea title. The South Carolina native defeated Harvey by two shots in the 2013 event. Langdale will join four of his Clemson Tiger teammates at the Country Club of Charleston, including juniors Cody Proveaux, Miller Capps, and Blake Kennedy, as well as senior Billy Kennerly.

Langdale finished outside of the top-40 in his attempt to repeat in 2014.

The top junior golfer in the field is another Canadian, Austin Connelly. Connelly captured the Jones Cup Invitational in February in a playoff over Kyle Jones of Baylor. The win earned him an exemption into the PGA Tour's 2015 McGladrey Classic, the first time such an exemption has been granted by the tournament. Connelly found himself in a playoff in the 2014 Jones Cup, as well, where he lost to fellow Canadian Conners.

This will be Connelly's first Azalea Invitational.

Other notable players in the field include two former USGA champions, like four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur winner Nathan Smith and 2013 Mid-Amateur champion Mike McCoy. The 2014 Senior Azalea winner Brady Exber of Las Vegas earned an invitation to the event, especially considering his incredible 2014 season where he snagged victories at the British Amateur and Stocker Cup, among others.

The 72-hole event will begin Thursday at The Country Club of Charleston and wrap up on Sunday after a 54-hole cut. The previous two years have been cut short by rain so here's to hoping the weather remains cooperative for the 67th running of the tournament.

Defending champion Will Murphy is not in this year's field; his South Carolina team was invited to compete in the Valspar Intercollegiate at Floridian this week, and has another event next week.

Results: Azalea Invitational
1SCTodd WhiteSpartanburg, SC100065-67-69-68=269
2BrazilAndre TourinhoBrazil70068-65-68-70=271
3Northern IrelandChris SelfridgeNorthern Ireland50071-67-67-67=272
4TNDylan HealeyFranklin, TN50071-71-65-66=273
5LAPatrick ChristovichNew Orleans, LA50066-67-73-69=275

View full results for Azalea Invitational

ABOUT THE Azalea Invitational

72 hole stroke play with a 54 hole cut on a 1925 Seth Raynor design. Good mix of college players, juniors and mid amateurs. 7 spots available in a qualifier. Impressive list of past champions at this traditional event. Reigning USGA champs often use this tournament as a tune-up for the Masters.

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