Last Sunday at the RBC Heritage, Mackenzie Hughes shot a 78.
Safe to say a disappointing finish.
On Thursday at the Travelers Championship, Hughes shot 18 strokes better.
The Canadian’s first-round 60 gives him a three-shot lead and is the lowest 18-hole score of his career.
Nobody went lower than @MacHughesGolf on Thursday.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 25, 2020
“I’ve probably had more like meaningful rounds of say 65 or 66, but this was as far as going low and how I felt about the game, it’s definitely probably top five,” Hughes said to reporters after his first round.
Hughes shot 61 twice previously at Sea Island and a mini-tour event. But unlike those two instances, Hughes had a chance to shoot a 59. On the 18th hole, the Ancaster, Ontario native missed a 40-foot birdie putt left but tapped in the four-footer for par to secure the 60.
Hughes admitted after the round that he flirted with 59 during the hiatus.
“When I was home actually over the break, I had a putt for 59 at one of my home courses, TPC Piper Glen,” Hughes said. “I had a little bit of a brief taste of it there about a month ago. Yeah, so that’s basically the only few — maybe four or five chances in my life. Still waiting for it.”
Hughes started his opening round with one birdie through his first four holes. A solid start for many golfers. But then the Canadian turned up the gears, converting five birdies in a row to shoot 29 on his front-9, the lowest of his career.
60 for Mackenzie Hughes after a 2-putt at the last.
Gained more than 5 strokes on the field putting in today's round (ranked 1st). 2nd-lowest score this season on the PGA Tour (Chappell shot 59 at Greenbrier in the fall).
— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) June 25, 2020
Four birdies on the backside gave Hughes the first 60 of his career. Converting 64.3 percent of his fairways, 83.3 percent greens in regulation, and a whole five strokes gained on the field in putting, Hughes is the leader alone at 10-under.
Asked what his favourite club in the bag is?
“My putter,” Hughes said. “I think I made two, three, putts over 25 feet, so right there off the bat, you’re gaining a lot of shots on the field doing that. And just made a lot of putts from like that 10- to 15-foot range, so I gave myself good looks and was able to capitalize on those.”
Hughes got off to a slow start in 2020, missing his first five cuts. But a runner-up finish at the Honda Classic showcased his abilities when he can put together four consistent rounds.
For Hughes, it’s about removing the bad round from his scorecard, like last Sunday at Harbour Town.
And knocking down birdies.
“Really the mentality tomorrow is to go out there and make a bunch of birdies again,” Hughes said. “The golf course is kind of yielding some scores, and in order to be there on Sunday, I’ll have to keep making birdies. Nothing really changes.”