After hitting a long birdie putt on the last hole of the Open Championship, Mackenzie Hughes moved into a tie for sixth place and entered the Canadian record book.
It was Hughes’s debut in the final men’s main championship of the season, and his result was the best by a Canadian-born golfer in tournament history.
“I felt like I was born to play golf,” said Hughes, Dunda, Ontario. product he filmed in the 1960s in all four rounds at the Royal St. George’s in Sandwich, England.
Hughes finished 8-under, seven shots behind winner Collin Morikawa, who became the first golfer to win his first two major debut titles. (He also won the 2020 PGA Championship on his first try.)
“When you make history and I’m 24, it’s hard to really understand and take in,” Morikawa said. “At 24, it’s so hard to look back on the short two years that I’ve been a professional and see what I’ve done, because I want more.”
Hughes, who played four-time major-winner Brooks Koepka on Saturday and finished tied with him on Sunday, said consecutive strong results in the majors (he was also in the final group at the US Open last month) show that You can hang out with the best in the world.
“When you have high scores like that and you play with the best players in the world, and you hang on and stick with them, it does a lot for you,” Hughes said. “In the future, I know I have things to work on and improve on, but that’s the exciting part. There is still a lot of room for improvement, but I am improving. I am learning.”
Before this year, Hughes had missed five of six cuts in major events and his best result was a tie for 58th in the PGA last year.
“Obviously I would have loved to play a little better the last few days, but overall, I was quite satisfied with the efforts,” Hughes said. “It was another important good experience.”
The other Canadian to find over the weekend, Corey Conners of Listowel, Ontario, played in the penultimate pair with runner-up Jordan Spieth, who hit two shots at 13-under.
Like Hughes, Conners bogeyed the first two holes of the day – “You couldn’t have a worse start,” Hughes said – and said Sunday was “more of a battle” than he expected. However, he settled in in the middle of the round, making a birdie on the sixth par 4 and adding an eagle on the next hole. But he stumbled home with ghosts on two of his last four holes.
In the end, Conners finished tied for 15th after strong results in the Masters (tied for 10th) and the PGA Championship (tied for 17th after maintaining the lead in the first round).
“Let’s probably say I left each one a little bitter, I left a few shots out there. There is definitely room for improvement starting this week, ”Conners said. “But overall, it’s been pretty solid and fun to be in the mix in three of the top four this year.”
The next event for Conners and Hughes will be the Tokyo Olympics tournament, which kicks off on July 29 at Kasumigaseki Country Club. They will skip this week’s PGA Tour to stop the 3M Open in Minnesota.
“I think I have a great opportunity, and I will go there believing that I have a chance to win,” Hughes said of the Olympic challenge.
That same confidence helped Hughes, who qualified for next year’s Open at St Andrews with his top-10 finish, to rewrite some of Canadian history on Sunday.
“I’ve been building some of the best results and some big trophies, so that will do wonders for my confidence going forward,” Hughes said. “I will try to learn from the latest experiences and continue to grow.”
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