MISSISSPPI (AFP): Canada’s Mackenzie Hughes sank an eight-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole Sunday to defeat Austria’s Sepp Straka and win the PGA Sanderson Farms Championship.
The 31-year-old from Hamilton captured his second career PGA crown after he and Straka both finished 72 holes on 17-under par 271 at The Country Club of Jackson in Mississippi.
“Words can’t describe it,” Hughes said. “I’ve been working so hard, putting in some hours. It just feels so good.
“It’s the coolest feeling in the world. Winning happens so infrequently that when we do get to win it’s super special.”
World number 82 Hughes won his only prior PGA title at the 2016 RSM Classic, winning a five-man playoff that week with a par on the third extra hole.
“Definitely it feels a little sweeter than the first one,” Hughes said. “I was just fighting like hell to stay in it. Somehow I was able to pull through.”
Ending a six-year title drought was a thrill.
“This is the stuff that makes you feel alive,” Hughes said. “It’s a feeling you crave and a feeling you want more of — it will keep me working hard.”
Hughes made two great par saves at 18 to give himself the chance at the winning putt there.
At 18 in regulation, Hughes was way left off the tee an over the green, but putted from 35 yards to within four feet of the hole and made the par putt to force the playoff.
Straka fired a five-under 67 in regulation while Hughes shot 69.
The playoff began at 18 and Straka had a 20-foot birdie putt while Hughes was in a bunker. Hughes blasted out to five feet, Straka missed his putt and both tapped in to extend matters.
“Those par saves down the stretch, I was just trying to will the ball in the hole,” Hughes said. “That kind of describes my game a bit, that grit and that perseverance. The second one felt harder than the first one that’s for sure.”
Again they played 18, this time Hughes and Straka each having birdie putts. Straka missed from the fringe leaving Hughes an eight-footer for the victory. Hughes rolled in the putt and pumped his right first in celebration.
“Probably a little bit of relief. It has been a while,” Hughes said of his emotions at that moment. “I’ve had some close calls. Finishing second, while it’s still great, kind of stings when you are that close.
“I just wasn’t going to accept that today.”
Straka, ranked 36th, won his first PGA title in February at the Honda Classic and nearly grabbed his second in August before losing a playoff to Will Zalatoris at the St. Jude Championship.
“Hit good putts. Gave myself good chances. Unfortunately I couldn’t convert,” Straka said. “I played great golf on a tough Sunday. It’s good to know my game is in a good spot.”
South African Garrick Higgo was third on 272 after a closing 68, finishing one stroke ahead of countryman Dean Burmester.
American Mark Hubbard, the 54-hole leader seeking his first PGA title, fired a 74 to share fifth on 275 with compatriots Nick Hardy and Keegan Bradley and Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo.