In what can only be described as an instant classic, Sunday at the BMW Championship will go down as one of the most entertaining final rounds ever played on the PGA Tour. With Jon Rahm and Dustin Johnson stealing the show, it’s easy to forget the life changing day Mackenzie Hughes had on Sunday.
30-year-old Canadian Mackenzie Hughes was sitting just above the Tour Championship threshold coming down the stretch on Sunday, and secured his spot in the top 30 with an incredible par on the 18th. But before we get to the par itself, let’s look back at the season Hughes has had.
From the fall swing to the BMW Championship, Hughes has played 21 times on tour this season. In those 21 starts, Hughes has four top ten finishes, a solo second at the Honda Classic, a tie for third at the Travelers Championship, a tie for sixth at the Memorial, and a tie for 10th this past weekend at the BMW Championship.
What you might, or might not realize in those finishes listed above, three of the four top tens occurred after the return of golf in June.
What seems incredible now, Hughes missed 9 of his first 12 cuts on tour this season. More incredible, Hughes had a total of 10 FedEx cup points going into the Honda Classic. Which put him in 217th place in the standings. After his solo second at the Honda, Hughes earned 300 points, and jumped into 66th.
In the first event in the return of golf, Hughes missed the cut at the Charles Schwab Challenge, moving him back into 71st place. From then on, Hughes played eight events, and made all eight cuts.
Hughes started the FedEx Cup playoffs in 52nd position. But after a T13 at The Northern Trust, he jolted up the standings into 36th position, six spots out of the Tour Championship.
Now, bringing it back to this week. Hughes started the championship -3 through 12, and at the top of the leaderboard. After two bogeys coming in, he finished under par for the day.
Another solid day on Friday was derailed after bogeying 15 and 16 and making double bogey on 18. However, with no cut, Hughes was safe for the weekend at +2.
Hughes made more birdies than bogeys on Saturday, seeing him finish at -1, +1 for the championship. Putting him into position for a life-changing Sunday.
Sunday was full of moving up and down the FedEx Cup standings for many PGA Tour players, but maybe none more important than Hughes. Hughes finished the front nine even par, and was sitting inside the Tour Championship cutline.
A birdie on the 12th, and a bogey on the 14th saw Hughes still inside the line. However, Hughes could feel the pressure on the 17th, making a bogey. Hughes went to the 18th tee having to make par.
After a perfect 340-yard drive, Hughes was center cut in the fairway, looking at just over 150 yards to the pin. At the time of the shot, Hughes sat tied for 138th in approaches 150-175 yards on tour this season.
Hughes pushed the shot into the green side bunker, which Paul Azinger on the broadcast described as “a killer.”
47th on tour in sand save percentage, with 54.55%, Hughes had to get up and down out of the bunker to save the par. After making solid contact, the ball finished five feet behind the hole, leaving an incredibly fast five-footer for par.
Now imagine, standing over a five-footer, a putt you should make. However, add the pressure of exemption into the 2020 U.S. Open, 2020 WGC-HSBC, 2021 Sentry Tournament of Champions, WGC-Mexico, Masters, and U.S. Open. Along with a minimum payday of $395,000 next week, the putt becomes not so easy.
After an extended read, Hughes played slight right to left break. After a slight tap, Hughes watched the putt break slightly left, maybe less than he anticipated, into the right side of the cup.
With less emotion than Jon Rahm after sinking his championship winning putt, Hughes fist-pumped knowing he jumped eight spots into 28th place in the FedEx Cup standings.
In an emotional post-round interview Hughes said “that putt was the greasiest-longest putt you ever wanted to have, and just somehow willed it in”
In what has been a year unlike any other, add the story of Mackenzie Hughes to list of crazy things to happen in 2020. However, Hughes’ story is one of the very few positives from this year.