ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Sea Island Golf Club is a sleepy, sweet-tea kind of setting that doesn’t encounter a lot of rowdy fist-pumping, especially shortly after 8 a.m. on a quiet and brisk Monday.
But rookie Mackenzie Hughes of Canada stood on the back of the green on the 17th hole at Seaside, the third hole of a playoff at the RSM Classic (and Monday’s first and only hole), facing likely elimination if he couldn’t coax his 18-footer from just off the green to fall. When it did, Hughes had plenty to celebrate. He’d at least survived. And then, as one by one, Blayne Barber, Henrik Norlander and veteran Camilo Villegas all missed par putts, the trophy was his.
“It’s just an incredible feeling,” he said.
Though Monday’s four-man resumption of Sunday’s original five-man playoff was anyone’s to win, in earnest, no player had more invested into the week than Hughes, 25, who had been atop the leaderboard since opening with a sizzling 9-under 61 on Thursday at the same Seaside Course.
“If I don’t make the putt, I’m probably done,” Hughes said. “I needed to flip things around. Everybody had some work left (for par). If I make mine first, it makes everybody’s job harder.”
His putt was struck solidly, and made a perfect turn from left to right, tracking to the hole, unlike his 10-footer for birdie to win that had grazed the left edge at No. 18 some 14 hours earlier.
“About a foot from the hole,” he said of Monday’s par effort, “I knew it was right in the heart. It was such a good feeling.”