HAMILTON– It’s rare when Mackenzie Hughes gets to sleep in his own bed. Or former bed, depending on how you look at it.
Such is the reality this week, as the 28-year-old Canadian prepares to play in the RBC Canadian Open at Hamilton Golf & Country Club. A mere 10 minutes from his childhood home. With a new start date for the tournament, Hughes is eager to compete at a course which was the site of his inaugural PGA Tour event. Unlike in 2012, Hughes is an experienced professional that is looking to represent Canada with pride.
“In 2012, it was a little more deer in the headlights than it is now, and now I feel quite comfortable, and ready to play golf,” says Hughes.
Mackenzie Hughes Getting Hometown Welcome
For Mackenzie Hughes, it seems like a lifetime ago since he was an occupant of his childhood home in Dundas, Ontario. The streets, the people, and of course, the town’s jewel of a golf course, all embody the identity of the young Canadian. Everywhere he goes around the world on the PGA Tour, home is in Mackenzie Hughes’ heart.
While walking the grounds of Hamilton Golf and Country Club, remnants of Hughes’ past came back to life. From seeing family members to interacting with an old school teacher, the hometown welcome is full of warmth for Hughes.
“I actually bumped into my grade six schoolteacher, Mr. Whittup,” stated Hughes. “What a blast from the past. It was really funny and we had a fun moment together.”
Having the support of a whole community is important. But for Hughes, it’s the integral experience of playing the golf course. Growing up 10 minutes away, Mackenzie Hughes would play Hamilton Golf & Country Club. And he gained the knowledge of the facets that need to be working well in order to have success. According to Hughes, it’s a course where pinpoint accuracy and creativity around the greens will be crucial.
“I think there is an advantage for sure,” said Hughes regarding his familiarity of the course. “I’ve got some comfort walking around the property, knowing certain holes and how they play in different winds. It’s been a long time, but I still have rounds logged here to know this place pretty well.”
Hughes Looking for Momentum at RBC Canadian Open
If there’s one week that stands out for Mackenzie Hughes, it’s the RBC Canadian Open. A tournament where the last two years, he has been the Canadian to shoot the lowest score. Last year, Hughes would shoot all four rounds in the 60’s, with a 67 and 68 on the weekend to finish in a tie for eighth. But the Canadian is hungry to reach a new level at this event.
“I certainly come here hoping to get a different kind of trophy,” affirms Hughes.
There have been a plethora of positives to take from Hughes’ season thus far. At the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship, Hughes finished runner-up to eventual champion, Graeme McDowell. He also scored well at the Charles Schwab Challenge, where he earned his second top-10 performance of the season.
But consistency has eluded Mackenzie Hughes all season long. Within rounds, from round to round or tournament to tournament. There have been flashes of brilliance from Hughes to also moments where his attitude hasn’t been up to par. Blocking out the inevitable distractions from playing on a course close to home will be critical for Hughes to contend come the weekend.
“I would like to be more consistent,” says Hughes. “The biggest thing for me is attitude. It’s 99 per cent of where my great golf comes from, and at Colonial last week, I was able to kind of flip the switch.”
It has been 65 years since a Canadian-born player has won the Canadian Open. With 26 Canadians in the field, Mackenzie Hughes is hoping that this homecoming will be one to remember come Sunday evening.