Canadian golfer Mackenzie Hughes showed a glimpse of his potential late in 2016 and then turned in a strong 2017 to earn a PGA Tour rookie of the year nomination on Monday.
Hughes collected more than $2.3 million US in winnings, including $1.08 million for his win in a five-man playoff at the RSM Golf Classic last November in St. Simons Island, Ga.
In 31 events, the 26-year-old had two top-10 finishes, nine times placed among the top 25 and made the cut 22 times.
The victory at the RSM Golf Classic made Hughes the ninth Canadian to win a PGA Tour event and earned him a PGA Tour exemption through 2019 and a spot at the Masters this past April in Augusta, Ga., where the native of Dundas, Ont., failed to make the cut.
Hughes, who finished the season 107th in the Official World Golf Rankings, trailed only Adam Hadwin (46th) Graham DeLaet (98th) as the top golfer in Canada.
Hughes finished outside the top-30 at the recent BMW Championship in Lake Forest, Ill. — struggling on the front nine of the final round — narrowly missing a chance to advance to the Tour Championship and, in turn, exemptions into the Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship.
Among the Dundas Valley Golf and Curling Club member's other season highlights:
- Finished tied for 109th in adjusted scoring average (71.044)
- Placed 36th in the Fedex Cup standings
- Top Canadian (tied for 32nd) at Canadian Open
- Tie for 13th at the season-opening Safeway Open and Dell Technologies Championship
- 16th-place tie at The Players Championship
- Tie for 10th at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
"He's just a great ambassador for this area, for our club," John Kirkwood, head professional at Dundas Valley, told CBC Sports last year. "He started here as a six- or seven-year-old on our par-3 course [but] I think it was probably a couple years after he went to college that I knew there was something special about him."
Hughes, who earned a degree in business management from Kent State University in Ohio five years ago, was the top money earner on the PGA Tour Canada circuit in 2013 and gained a spot on the Web.com Tour the following year.
Augusta's Wesley Bryan, Patrick Cantlay of Jupiter, Fla., Grayson Murray of Raleigh, N.C., and San Diego's Xander Schauffele are the other top rookie nominees.