By Craig Campbell, Dundas Star News
Dundas’ Mackenzie Hughes birdied three straight holes in the back nine Sunday on the way to a six-under-par 66 to win his first professional golf tournament, and leap into top spot on PGA Tour Canada’s money list.
As number one in Order of Merit’s ‘Top Five’ with one event left this season, Hughes is in position to earn one of five Web.com tour cards.
Previously, the top five on the Canadian tour were only granted an exemption into the second round of PGA Tour Q-school. With that qualifying process scrapped last year, the Web.com tour is the only route to gain PGA status.
Before the weekend tournament in Nova Scotia, Hughes told Golf Canada in an interview the shot at advancing to the next level of professional golf was more important than the money that comes with it.
“There’s a carrot at the end that says if you play well you’re going to move up,” Hughes said. “It is a huge incentive for many guys. It isn’t about the money…it’s about the possibility.”
In the past two weeks, Hughes has moved from 25th to 12th and now first place on the Order of Merit.
He shot rounds of 68 (-4), 69 (-3), 71 (-1) and 66 (-6) to win the Cape Breton Celtic Classic.
The Highland Secondary School and Kent State University graduate started the fourth round Sunday in fourth place, but birdied four of the first five holes to jump into a second place tie.
Hughes took the lead for the first time with his third straight birdie on the front nine. After a back and forth battle for the top three spots on the leaderboard, Hughes birdied three straight again to regain the lead for good.
His first professional win comes after top 10 finishes in three of his previous four PGA Tour Canada events, and a second place finish last week. Hughes has played a cumulative 48-under-par in the past three events.
With just over $52,114 in winnings on PGA Tour Canada this season, he is approximately $12,000 ahead of the second place position in the order of merit.
The Tour Championship in London, Ontario closes out the season Sept. 9-15.
See next Thursday’s Dundas Star News for more.