PGA TOUR RBC Canadian Open

Mackenzie Hughes in contention heading into the weekend at RBC Canadian Open

Mackenzie Hughes
Mackenzie Hughes Gary Yee (Golf Canada)

Mackenzie Hughes first competed in the Canadian Open at the Hamilton Golf & Country Club when he was a bright-eyed 21-year-old.  Today, 12 years later, the 33-year-old from Dundas, Ontario is a seasoned veteran and has two PGA TOUR victories to his name – and is contention to potentially add one more victory to his resume on Canadian soil.

While some things have changed, the thing that remains the same is the support Hughes receives when he returns home – and his eager desire to play his A game in front of the appreciative and energetic Canadian golf fans.

“I remember doing it at 21 years old and being pretty wide eyed and maybe caught off guard by how big the moment was,” said Hughes, who won the Canadian Men’s Amateur both in 2011 and 2012.

He speaks about watching Canada’s National Open as a young kid in 2003 and 2006 and wanting to get close to the players to get photos and autographs. Today, he’s the one being asked for photos and autographs.

Hughes says the Canadian players competing at the tournament have to multi task with other commitments besides golf during tournament week – but he personally wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I try to relish the fact that I’ll have some extra cheers out there and a lot of friends and family (in the crowd),” said Hughes during his pre-tournament presser.

This year, there are a record number of Canadians competing at the RBC Canadian Open. In total, there are 28 Canadians competing including defending champion, Nick Taylor, and two of Hughes’ former Kent State University teammates, Taylor Pendrith and Corey Conners.

“Amongst the Canadians we talk about this a little bit just in the fact that when we come back for this one week a year you kind of feel like a little bit of a star. You go next week and it feels different – even though it’s a big tournament next week as well,” said Hughes, a long-time member of the Canadian National Team.

“Coming here feels different. The support and the way the fans are behind us is really cool. It’s probably one of the most fun tournaments to kind of get in contention for just because of how much support we have,” he continued.

Hughes acknowledges the significance of Nick Taylor’s dramatic playoff victory last year and strives to achieve his own version of greatness.

“While we’re not answering the question of who will be the first Canadian to win since Pat Fletcher, but I still think that when we come here, we’re all pretty eager to do well close to home,” said Hughes.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well every single week but coming here I really enjoy playing well in front of the home crowd.”

Hughes has certainly brought his A game for the hometown crowd and enjoyed a stellar second round, firing a six under 64. 

“When I started the day obviously, I’m just trying to get myself in position for the weekend. Then I kind of got off to a start where I felt like I kind of had some good juices going early,” he said.

As a teammate of Hughes from the Canadian National Team program and during their collegiate days at Kent State University, Corey Conners knows what Hughes is capable of doing when he’s playing his best golf.

“It’s fun to watch. I’m a little bit jealous sometimes how well he rolls it,” said Conners with a smile.

“(Mackenzie) can get on a good roll, and the greens here are rolling beautifully.  No surprise he’s rolling a bunch of putts in,” he added about his good friend and former teammate.

At seven under par, Hughes has positioned himself as the top Canadian in the field heading into the weekend.

“I had a few minutes to process the round and kind of the whole day and while the finish was disappointing, I look at the whole body of work. Starting today if you told me I was going to shoot 64, I would have taken it,” noted the Dundas, Ont., native during his post round presser. “It gets me into contention for the weekend and that’s all I can ask for.”