TSN Edge: Which Canadian is poised to break out at RSM Classic?
Don’t be surprised if Mackenzie Hughes plays very well this week at the RSM Classic and still heads home early.
It won’t be because of a missed cut, but rather a phone call from his wife, Jenna, saying baby No. 2 is on the way. A son is scheduled to arrive on Nov. 30.
“We worked it all out and figured that I can probably make it back in time,” said Hughes of the five-hour drive between Sea Island, Ga., and Charlotte, N.C., where he makes his home. “But it will be on my mind, for sure.”
When presented with the Hunter Mahan scenario (Mahan was leading the RBC Canadian Open after 36 holes but withdrew when his wife went into labour), Hughes deftly deferred the choice.
“I think my wife will make that decision,” laughed Hughes, who will celebrate his 30th birthday on Monday. “I guess that would be a good problem to have.”
The RSM Classic is the site of the Hamilton, Ont., native’s sole PGA Tour victory, which came just a few starts into his PGA Tour career back in 2016. That year, he won a five-player playoff to become the first golfer to win on the Mackenzie Tour, Korn Ferry Tour and PGA Tour
Coming back to Sea Island, Ga., and the Seaside and Plantation courses, gives him good vibes.
“It still feels fresh in my mind,” admitted Hughes of that win. “I was playing a practice round and some of the pins were in the same spots as that final round. It brings back good memories.”
Hughes hasn’t won on Tour since the 2016 edition of the tournament but this year he’s shown signs that he’s ready to do it again. He’s had six top-10 finishes since the PGA Tour restarted in June after the shutdown due to the COVID pandemic, including a tie for seventh at the Vivint Houston Open two weeks ago that featured a final-round 63.
Last week, Hughes was at home watching four of his fellow Canadians tee it up in the Masters. With his run of good play, more than one fan wondered why the Kent State graduate wasn’t in the field at Augusta National. But his entry qualifier – making it to the Tour Championship –came after this year’s field was set and he’ll be there in April.
“Quite a few people were asking me why I wasn’t playing,” chuckled Hughes. “Most of them weren’t really die-hard golf fans and didn’t understand the way things were this year. I just told them I’d be there next year.”
It has been quite a season for the golfer who started 2020 ranked 264th in the world. After a tie for third at the Travelers Championship, he moved inside the top 100 for the first time in his career and a solo third at the Corales Puntacana Resort and Golf Championship got him a spot in the top 50. He’s currently the top Canadian in the world and leading the race for the two spots on the Canadian team for next summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.
The RSM Classic will be Hughes’s final official event for this year although he will play in the QBE Shootout, an off-season televised exhibition hosted by Greg Norman, Dec. 10-13.