Hughes beats Straka in a playoff to secure Sanderson Farms Championship title

By Sports Desk October 02, 2022

Mackenzie Hughes held his nerve in a playoff against Sepp Straka to secure the Sanderson Farms Championship with a score of 17 under.

It is the second PGA Tour win of the 31-year-old Canadian's career, with nearly six years passed since his first win back at the RSM Classic in 2016.

This win was all the more unlikely after shooting a 71 on Thursday, but he followed it with a 63 on Friday for the lowest round of the week, before finishing with 68 and 69 on the weekend.

He had to fend off the challenge of Straka to get it done, who was the only player this week to shoot all four rounds in the 60s.

Straka rose to a share of the lead after four birdies over the space of five holes on his front-nine, and another pair of back-to-back birdies on the 14th and 15th to tie things up for the last few holes.

Hughes had a makeable birdie putt on the 17th to take the lead, but he narrowly missed it, before hooking his drive on the 18th into a position where salvaging a par was the best-case scenario.

From deep in the rough, he sent his second shot on the par-four over the back of the green, requiring an up-and-down to force a playoff. His long putt from off the green was excellent, leaving him a four-footer for par and he made no mistake.

Hughes again failed to make the green in regulation as they replayed the 18th, but he again saved par as Straka missed a 10-footer for birdie. On the second playoff hole, replaying the 18th one more time, Hughes figured it out, landing his approach within 10 feet and converting the birdie for the win.

Speaking to NBC in the moments after his win, he called being greeted by his wife and young son to celebrate a victory "something I've dreamed about since I had my first boy".

"I kept telling myself the whole week that I was going to do it, and that was the only thing I saw in my mind," he said. "Those par-saves down the stretch… I'd say that kind of describes my game a bit, that grit and perseverance."

There was strong South African representation at the top of the leaderboard, with Garrick Higgo alone in third at 16 under while Dean Burmester took sole possession of fourth at 15 under.

Argentina's Emiliano Grillo was joined by Americans Nick Hardy, Keegan Bradley and Mark Hubbard in a tie for fifth at 13 under, and defending champion Sam Burns finished nine shots off the pace at eight under in a tie for 30th.

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