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Canadian Open: Hughes ‘gutted’ after falling short

Hamilton –

Mackenzie Hughes had the dream scenario of winning the RBC Canadian Open in his hometown within reach but then it all slipped away.

Hughes started the final round of the men’s national golf championship tied for second, four shots back of Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre. Hughes had three birdies on his first four holes and MacIntyre bogeyed No. 1 to lift the Canadian to the top of the leaderboard.

The final 10 holes were tough on Hughes, with three bogeys dropping him back down as MacIntyre found his rhythm and surged to his first PGA Tour victory.

“Pretty gutted,” said Hughes, pausing to collect himself. “Yeah, I wanted this one pretty badly.

“I don’t know. This one will sting for awhile. I obviously got off to the start I needed to get off to but I just didn’t.”

Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, B.C., ended a 69-year drought for Canadians at their national championship last year after a thrilling four-hole playoff at Toronto’s Oakdale Golf and Country Club. It has been 110 years since Canadians won it in consecutive years, with Albert Murray (1913) and Karl Keffer (1914) the last to accomplish the feat.

Hughes spoke all week about trying to stay mentally present and shelve any pressure he might feel. Not just because he was aware of the importance of keeping the championship in Canada, but because this year’s event at Hamilton Golf and Country Club was essentially in his hometown.

Billed from Dundas, Ont., just eight kilometres away from the course in Ancaster, Ont., — both towns were amalgamated into the city of Hamilton in 2000 and 2001 respectively — Hughes allowed that the pressure of the final round did weigh on him.

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“Today I felt sort of the enormity of a few of the putts I had and a few of the shots,” he said. “Kind of felt like I was running out of holes at times and that I needed to make something happen.

“In this game you can’t really force things or feel like you need to start pressing, it’s kind of a hard game to be pressing.”

Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., actually leapfrogged Hughes on the final leaderboard to win the Rivermead Cup, the trophy for lowest scoring Canadian at the men’s national championship. Conners shot 5-under 65 on the day to finish 12 under in sole possession of sixth.

“I guess it’s a nice consolation prize,” said Conners, who also won it in 2022. “Definitely something to be proud of but obviously disappointing to not win the big trophy. It’s a cool honour.”

There was a small silver lining for Hughes. His performance earned him a spot in the upcoming British Open at Royal Troon Golf Club in Scotland.

“It’s a great, I guess, bonus after not getting what you want, but kind of hard to think about that at the moment,” said Hughes. “It’s always great to get a major start under your belt and to play at Troon.

“I’ve played there before, so it’s a really fun golf course and looking forward to getting there in July.”

Taylor Pendrith (69) of Richmond Hill, Ont., tied for 21st at 7 under. He is projected to move three spots up to 30th on the FedEx Cup standings, making him the highest ranked Canadian on the PGA Tour.

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“A good step in the right direction,” said Pendrith, who went to Kent State University with Hughes and Conners. “I felt like I did a lot of good things, I putted awesome today, saved me a lot.”

Ben Silverman (68) of Thornhill, Ont., tied for 35th, Adam Svensson (70) of Surrey, B.C., tied for 51st. Myles Creighton (70) of Digby, N.S., tied for 57th. Edmonton’s Will Bateman (74) tied for 62nd, and David Hearn (76) of Brantford, Ont., finished 69th in his 20th Canadian Open appearance.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 2, 2024. 

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