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Mackenzie Hughes, Canadian PGA Tour Player

On the Range Blog

It was absolutely not the start to the season Mackenzie Hughes wanted.

But he’s set himself up for a pretty good ending.

Mackenzie Hughes Bag

Hughes, of Dundas, Ont., rolled in a curling, slippery five-footer Sunday at the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields Country Club to save par on the par-4 18th and earn the 28th spot in the Tour Championship. Had he missed, he would have finished 32nd.

PGA Tour Player, Mackenzie Hughes

Mackenzie Hughes, Canadian PGA Tour Player

“That was some of the most pressure I’ve felt in a long time,” said Hughes on Sunday.

Indeed, Hughes, who won The RSM Classic in 2016, missed nine out of his first 11 cuts of the season. He finally put it all together for a runner-up result at The Honda Classic in March. That was the last full event before the COVID-19 break.

He returned to action and, after missing the cut at the Charles Schwab Challenge, he found the weekend every event since, including two top-15 results in the FedExCup Playoffs.

On Sunday Hughes roasted his Ping G410 Plus driver 350 yards on the 72nd hole. He pulled his Ping S55 wedge into the greenside bunker, but blasted his Ping Glide 2.0 Stealth sand wedge to just five feet before rolling in the season-saver with his trusty Scottsdale TR Piper.

PING G410 Driver

PING G410 Driver

“I was really proud of myself,” said Hughes. “I think I'll look back on this one in a while and reflect on it and really draw a lot of positives from it. Like I said, I just didn't have my game today, and just really dug deep. Kept trying to believe in myself and just telling myself that I was going to do it, and it worked out.”

It’s been a big year of change for Hughes, and he’s starting to see it all pay off now.

In the last nine months Hughes has begun work with both a new caddie and new swing coach. Not only that, he and his wife Jenna are expecting a second child (another son) in November.

But on the golf course, Hughes has started to show the kind of prowess that’s made him successful on every level of golf he’s played. He’s proving that the beginning of this season was just a blip on his career’s radar.

Even with the victory in 2016, this is the first time Hughes has had such a solid stretch of golf that he’s ended up in the Tour Championship, happening this week on a special Friday-Monday schedule at East Lake Country Club in Atlanta.

"I think (reaching the Tour Championship is) one of the most underrated things on the PGA Tour as far as accomplishments go," Hughes told "When you make it to East Lake, it's such a huge accomplishment."

Despite not winning on the PGA Tour this season, Hughes still gets many of the same rewards a winner would get thanks to his appearance at the season-ender.

With so many events cancelled in 2019-20 due to COVID-19, Hughes earned a spot in the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii (that tournament had to fill out the field somehow), along with the Masters, the U.S. Open, and the Open Championship in 2021. He also will get to play the WGC-Mexico.

The Tournament of Champions and the WGC-Mexico events don’t have a cut, and neither does this week at East Lake – where last place walks away with nearly $400,000. Given the way the PGA Tour has set up this week (just like in 2019), Hughes will start 10 shots back of Dustin Johnson, who leads the FedExCup standings with just one event left.

Still, Hughes has proven to himself he belongs with the biggest names in the sport. After his finish at the BMW Championship Hughes moved to 65th on the Official World Golf Ranking – and is now the highest-ranked Canadian male in golf.

This could be just the beginning of a very special run.

“I'm obviously not expected to go do anything at the TOUR Championship, but I'm 10 back, and yeah, you never know what could happen,” said Hughes. “I know you can't win if you're not there, so step one accomplished, and I'm excited for the week.”

Written and intended to the audience by Adam Stanley