LA JOLLA, CA– When Mackenzie Hughes found out that he would be paired with Tiger Woods, he was ecstatic. The Canadian had played with the Big Cat before. But the Farmers Insurance Open is one of the premier PGA Tour tournaments of the year.
“I was very excited,” said Hughes after the round. “I had played with him last year so knew what to expect. Heading into the third round, I knew I would either be near his position. So it was fun to play with him.”
Both golfers started the day well behind of 36-hole leader Justin Rose. But when it was all said and done, it would be the Canadian to have the better third round score than the Tiger. Hughes would finish with a two under 70, compared to Woods’ 71. While the Canadian would like to be near the top of the leader board, he takes the positives out of being able to compete with the best in the game.
“It’s a nice consolation prize [beating Tiger]” stated Hughes.
Hughes Off to Riveting Start
The third round at the Farmers Insurance Open could have been much more grander for the Dundas, Ontario native. Through the first nine holes, he made five birdies. All facets of his game were clicking. But the back 9, Hughes struggled with unfortunate bogeys. Bogeying four of the last nine holes erased the positive momentum that the Canadian built on a positive front nine.
“Overall, I did things pretty well. There have been too many mistakes and sloppy bogeys that have been holding me back,” said Hughes. “A shot here and a shot there, maybe I am at 12-under par instead of 6-under. It’s really close.”
Hughes is one of four Canadians who made the cut this week at Torrey Pines. Ben Silverman, Nick Taylor and Adam Svensson, who is leading the Canadian contingent, have been getting as much experience as possible, trying to improve their games each and every week. But as Hughes states, the goals are much higher than making cuts.
“It is nice to have so many Canadians in the field,” said Hughes. “But we believe that we have the games to be competing every week at tournaments. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of us win this year.”
Tiger Struggles on Moving Day
While Hughes was experiencing the crowds that follow Tiger everywhere he goes, unfortunately there wasn’t a lot for the gallery to cheer about with the fan favourite. While Tiger did shoot a one under par 71, he struggled with his iron play. Currently 33rd in the field in terms of proximity to the hole, it is a facet of his game that Tiger knows can be better.
“I finally drove it good but didn’t hit my irons very close,” said Woods after his round. “Again, I had a bunch of close calls on putts that just didn’t go in. If I can get my irons straightened out, I think I can get to double digits which would be an accomplishment for me.”
Given that Woods and Hughes have played with each other in the past, the Canadian was able to get some good conservation in with the veteran over the course of the round. Despite not finishing strong, any time playing with Tiger is a valuable learning experience. Hughes did not waste the opportunity.
“We talked a little bit,” said Hughes. “It was a fun day. It was fun to be a part of the buzz that Tiger brings every time he is on the golf course.”
Hughes is looking to get his 4th top 10 finish of his career. But regardless of how he finishes this week, he still can claim bragging rights that he was able to beat Tiger head to head at one of the Big Cat’s favourite courses.