September 8, 2013, Sydney, NS – Dundas, Ontario’s Mackenzie Hughes captured his first PGA TOUR Canada victory Sunday, shooting a final round 66 at The Lakes Golf Club to win the inaugural Cape Breton Celtic Classic, vaulting him to the top of the Order of Merit with one event to go.
Hughes, the 2011 and 2012 Canadian Amateur Champion, birdied five of his first six holes and four of his last five to card a 6-under 66, the best round of the day, giving him a one-shot victory over Vancouver, British Columbia’s Ryan Williams.
“To win here on PGA TOUR Canada means so much. It’s been a crazy year,” said Hughes, who in his first year as a professional qualified for the US Open, started the year with no status on PGA TOUR Canada and now has secured his Web.com Tour card for 2014. “If you told me at the start of the year after I missed those first few cuts that I’d be number one on the Order of Merit heading to the TOUR Championship, I’d say ‘stop messing with me.'”
Starting the day six shots behind 54-hole leader David Skinns, Hughes came out of the gate on fire, posting birdies on five of his first six holes. Then, two shots behind in the middle of his back nine, Hughes drained long birdie putts on the 14th and 15th, two of his four birdies in the final five holes.
“On 14, I hit it to about 30-feet and thought I left myself a lot of work, so I said ‘just try and make it,’ and I made it,” said Hughes. “The next hole was the same thing, about 40-feet. I said ‘try and make it,’ and made it, and then I knew I had something going.”
Hughes would go on to birdie the 16th and barely missed a 15-foot eagle putt at the 18th hole to post 14-under par in the clubhouse. He then watched as Williams, playing in the day’s final group, knocked his second shot at the par-5 closing hole to within six feet for the eagle he would need to force a playoff.
The putt slid by, however, giving Hughes his first professional victory.
“When he hit it close I thought for sure there would be a playoff. Unfortunately he missed, but I was very happy to get the win,” said Hughes, who despite not being a member of PGA TOUR Canada has played every event this season through solid play and a series of sponsor’s exemptions. The Kent State graduate played his way into this week’s field via a top-20 finish last week, when he tied for second at The Wildfire Invitational presented by PC Financial.
Williams posted a career best finish with his solo second performance, as did Lincoln, England’s David Skinns who tied for third along with Cincinnati, Ohio’s Wes Homan.
Hughes locks up Web.com Tour status for 2014
Now at the top of the Order of Merit with $52,114.29 on the season, Mackenzie Hughes is guaranteed to finish inside The Five and earn Web.com Tour status for 2014. Here is the updated top five heading into next week’s season-ending TOUR Championship of Canada presented by Freedom 55 Financial.
1. Mackenzie Hughes – $52,114.29
2. Riley Wheeldon – $43,987.50
3. Hugo Leon – $39,897.00
4. Wil Collins – $39,708.04
5. Joe Panzeri – $39,312.73
Hughes takes third consecutive Canadian Player of the Week honour
With his victory, Mackenzie Hughes captured his third consecutive Freedom 55 Financial Canadian Player of the Week award, earning a $1,500 prize and following up the honour he claimed at The Great Waterway Classic and The Wildfire Invitational presented by PC Financial.
Each week, the top Canadian on the leaderboard will win the player of the week title, with the top Canadian on the Order of Merit at season’s end winning Freedom 55 Financial Canadian Player of the Year. Hughes currently holds a lead of $8,126.79 over Comox, British Columbia’s Riley Wheeldon.
– Weather: Rain, 15 degrees Celsius, winds 30 km/h gusting to 45 km/h
– Hughes is first non-member to win on PGA TOUR Canada since Eugene Wong at the 2012 TOUR Championship
– Wes Homan finished tied for third one week after missing The Wildfire Invitational presented by PC Financial due to the death of his grandmother
– Hughes (22 years, 9 months 16 days) is the second youngest winner on PGA TOUR Canada this season. Riley Wheeldon was 22 years, 9 months and 4 days when he won the Syncrude Boreal Open presented by AECON
– Hughes is the first Canadian Amateur champion to win on PGA TOUR Canada since 1996 Amateur winner Rob McMillan at the 2002 Barefoot Classic