Hughes ignores pressure at RBC Canadian Open

OAKVILLE, Ont. — There’s tons of pressure on Mackenzie Hughes. Playing near his hometown, in his national championship, with dozens of family and friends in the gallery watching. But the PGA Tour rookie is trying to treat the RBC Canadian Open like any other tournament.

That methodical approach paid off as Hughes, from nearby Dundas, Ont., was the low Canadian on Thursday firing a 5-under 67 to enter a 16-way tie for 17th. The 26-year-old Hughes was happy to be just two shots behind the five co-leaders Hudson Swafford, Brandon Hagy, Kevin Chappell, Matt Every and Ollie Schniederjans.

“You can’t win it on Thursday but you can lose it on Thursday,” said Hughes after signing his scorecard. “I put myself in a pretty good spot. I know the scores are up there today and someone might shoot 7, 8 under, but it’s a four-round tournament and I’m off to a great start.”

That eases some of the tension that Hughes and the 16 other Canadians competing at the event feel every year at the PGA’s annual event north of the border.

“There’s a little bit of pressure. I’d be lying if I said it was a normal week. It’s not,” said Hughes, who estimated he had between 20 and 30 friends and family at Glen Abbey Golf Course for the first round. “You see a lot of familiar faces in the gallery, people calling your name. On the PGA Tour, I don’t get noticed for my appearance usually.”

Graham DeLaet, a seven-year PGA Tour veteran from Weyburn, Sask., said that he felt the pressure too, getting nervous before teeing off in the afternoon group.

“I had butterflies in my stomach,” said DeLaet, who eagled on No. 18 just before the sun set for a 4-under 68. “I’m not used to having so many people around No. 1 as I’m teeing off on a Thursday.”

Part of the pressure comes from Canada’s decades-long drought at its own national championship. The last Canadian to win the event was Pat Fletcher at Vancouver’s Point Grey Golf Club in 1954 and today’s crop of players are asked about bringing the title home on a nearly daily basis at the Canadian Open.

“We’re aware of it but it gets talked about it enough,” said Hughes. “At the end of the day, we prepare 30 weeks a year trying to win tournaments, and this is another one I’ll be trying to win. To have this be in Canada, and obviously it would be very special, but you just can’t try too hard to win your national open, because it’s not going to happen if you try that hard.”

Amateurs Hugo Bernard of Mont-Saint Hillaire, Que., and Austin James of Bath, Ont., were at 1 under while Jared Du Toit of Kimberely, B.C., Ottawa’s Brad Fritsch, and Mike Weir of Brights Grove, Ont., finished their rounds at even-par 72.

Toronto’s Daniel Kim was 1-over 73 and Riley Wheeldon of Comox, B.C., was 2 over.

Matt Hill of Sarnia, Ont., amateur Garrett Rank of Elmira, Ont., Drew Nesbitt of Shanty Bay, Ont., and Vancouver’s Ryan Williams had their days cut short due to darkness. They’ll finish their first rounds on Friday.

Just Posted

Castor murderer vows to fight conviction

Jason Klaus tells courtroom he loved his family who were murdered in December 2013

Advocate poll shows another hospital wanted in Red Deer

Over 50 per cent of voters support second hospital

Olds RCMP has new detachment commander

Staff Sgt. Jim MacDonald now on the job

Off-highway vehicles recovered on Sunchild

Rocky Mountain House RCMP notifying owners

WATCH news on the go: Replay Red Deer Jan. 21

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

DJ Sabatoge and TR3 Band kick off Sylvan Lake’s Winterfest 2018

Central Alberta’s youngest DJ will open for TR3 Band kicking off Town… Continue reading

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

WATCH news on the go: Replay Red Deer Jan. 21

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

VIDEO: Thousands join women’s march events across B.C.

Today marks one year since the first Women’s March on Washington

In photos: Get ready for Western Canadian Championships

Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 start… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month