Hughes beats Straka in playoffs for PGA title Sanderson Farms

Hughes beats Straka in playoffs for PGA title Sanderson Farms

Canadian Mackenzie Hughes sank an eight-foot birdie putt on the second hole of the playoffs on Sunday to defeat Austrian Sepp Straka to win the Sanderson Farms PGA championship.

The 31-year-old from Hamilton captured the second PGA crown of his career after he and Straka finished 72 holes at 17-under-par 271 at The Country Club of Jackson in Mississippi.

“Words can’t describe it,” Hughes said. “I’ve been working really hard, putting in a few hours. It feels so good.”

“It’s the coolest feeling in the world. Winning happens so infrequently that when we do win it’s super special.”

World No. 82 Hughes won his only previous PGA title at the 2016 RSM Classic, winning a five-man playoff that week with a par on the third extra hole.

“It definitely feels a little sweeter than the first one,” Hughes said. “I was fighting like hell to stay in it. Somehow I was able to pull through.”

Ending a six-year title drought was exciting.

“This is what makes you feel alive,” Hughes said. “It’s a feeling you crave and a feeling you want more of; it’s going to keep me working hard.”

Hughes made two big par stops on the 18th for a chance to make the winning putt there.

At 18 in regulation, Hughes stayed off the tee and onto the green, but putted from 35 yards to four feet from the hole and par putted to force the tiebreaker.

Straka shot a 5-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 shot five feet, Straka missed his putt and they both took advantage to spread things out.

“Those par stops down the stretch, I was just trying to get the ball in the hole,” Hughes said. “That kind of describes my game, that grit and that perseverance. The second felt harder than the first, that’s for sure.”

Again 18 played, this time Hughes and Straka with birdie putts. Straka missed from the edge leaving Hughes eight feet to go for the win. Hughes rolled into the putt and pumped his first forehand in celebration.

“Probably a little bit of relief. It’s been a while,” Hughes said of his emotions at the time. “I’ve had a few close calls. Finishing second, while still great, hurts a bit when you’re 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 clinched his second in August before losing a playoff to Will Zalatoris at the St. Jude Championship.

“I made good putts. I 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 place.”

South African Garrick Higgo was third with 272 after a close of 68, finishing one stroke ahead of countryman Dean Burmester.

American Mark Hubbard, the 54-hole leader seeking his first PGA title, shot a 74 to share fifth place in 275 with compatriots Nick Hardy and Keegan Bradley and Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo.

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