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Hughes settles for second at RSM Classic


Despite shooting two rounds totaling 17-under par, Mackenzie Hughes wasn’t able to catch Ludvig Aberg down the stretch at the RSM Classic. The Canadian had to settle for a runner-up finish at the final PGA Tour event of the season after Aberg post his second-consecutive round of 61 to win by four.

It was the first PGA Tour win for Aberg who turned professional in May.

After shooting 60 on Saturday, Hughes started the final round two shots out of the lead but was never able to close the gap on Aberg. Both golfers posted opening nines of five-under 30 but on the back, Hughes only made two birdies while his Swedish opponent dropped five along with one bogey to finish at 29 under par.

“I feel as though it's one of those tournaments where you finish up and you feel like you didn't lose the tournament, you just got beat,” stated Hughes, who won the RSM in 2016. “Just got beat this week. Hats off to Ludvig, he played unbelievable golf.”

The finish pushed Hughes to 51st spot on the FedEx Cup ranking which ensures he’ll play two signature events next season, the AT&T at Pebble Beach and the Genesis Invitational at Riviera.

“Those are some of my favorite venues on Tour,” he stated, “so that's very exciting and happy to have achieved that. More than anything, kind of happy to see momentum in my game and see something building towards more or less what I expect of myself. This was like a great step for me and a nice way to finish the year off.”

Hughes ended the FedEx Cup playoffs missing the cut-off for guaranteed entry in all the signature events by a single stroke. He played the first three tournaments of the fall series, missing the cut in one and finishing back in the pack at the other two. Not long after that, Hughes parted ways with his coach and caddie, looking for a change in his game that saw him win at the Sanderson Farms Championship last fall but also miss 12 cuts in 29 starts.

The refresh seemed to work. In the next event, the World Wide Technology Championship in Los Cabos, Mexico, he finished tied for seventh. In that event and this week, he utilized the services of a new caddie, Julien Trudeau, a Canadian who spent many years carrying the bag for Graham DeLaet.

Although he won’t play again until January, Hughes said the last two finishes are bright spots on what has been an inconsistent season.

“Definitely results-wise this year was a bit tough,” he said, “and to see some positives there at the end of the year with Mexico and here has me feeling pretty good going into next year.”

Hughes will now put the clubs away for a while and head to his in-laws in Fredonia, N.Y., where he hopes to take in a Buffalo Bills game.

The defending champion, Adam Svensson, tied for fifth after a closing round of 62.

“I played some good golf, just the putter wasn't as hot as I wanted it to be,” he said of his tournament. “Hit the ball yesterday just as good as today and just didn't make any putts and today they dropped.”

Corey Conners, the other Canadian to make the cut, ended the week tied for 44th at 11 under par.