As he drove out of East Lake Golf Club on Monday evening, Mackenzie Hughes made a mental note that he wants to come back as often as possible.
And who wouldn’t? Being at the Tour Championship among the top 30 players on the PGA Tour, playing for a lucrative purse and garnering a bucket full of exemptions for next season is a great way to end a season.
Despite battling his swing, Hughes made a solid run in the event, finishing in 14th spot and earning a whopping $620,000 from the FedEx Cup pot.
"I think it was pretty respectable," said Hughes, who fired a final-round 67. "Considering where I started, to work my way into the top half of the field is pretty good."
Hughes’s play tee to green was not as sharp as it had been in the previous two playoff events but he made up for that with a brilliant short game. An example of that came on Monday, when he got up and down for par five times on the back nine.
The tournament brought to an end a campaign that Hughes called a tale of two seasons. He started his year missing the cut in nine of his first 11 tournaments and finished up cashing a cheque in his final nine events.
"I’ve always been good at riding momentum," said the 29-year-old. "I can feed off that and I’ve done a good job since the restart."
There were many other markers to indicate just how successful Hughes’s year was. He collected more than $2 million in earnings with an additional $620,000 in a FedEx Cup payout. At the Travelers Championship, he played his way into next week’s U.S. Open by finishing tied for third.
He also started the year ranked 264th in the Official World Golf Ranking and sits 57th after the Tour Championship. That makes him the top-ranked Canadian in that compilation, a list that will become more important next summer when Canada picks its Olympic team.
"That’s certainly a bonus," said Hughes of besting his fellow Canucks. "We have a fun rivalry and so to be ahead is huge for me."
After playing five of the last six weeks, the Dundas, Ont., product will spend the next few days at home and head up to Winged Foot on Sunday to begin preparations for the U.S. Open.
"I will definitely enjoy a week off," he stated. "It has certainly been a grind but we haven’t played as much this year as normal. I have plenty left in the tank."
What comes after the U.S. Open hasn’t been firmed up just yet. Hughes won’t be in the Masters in November although he does have a place in the field in Augusta in April. He’ll also have passes to the U.S. Open and the Open Championship as well as a number of other big events in the 2020-21 schedule.
And if all goes according to plan, he’ll also drive back in to East Lake at the end of that season.