JACKSON, Miss. — Whether it was confidence or incredible resilience, Mackenzie Hughes never doubted she would win the Sanderson Farms championship. He never imagined how Sunday night would unfold.
Hughes had to make six bogeys over the final seven holes — four of them for par — to overtake Sepp Strachan on the second playoff hole for his second PGA Tour victory.
“The second one felt a lot harder than the first one, that’s for sure,” Hughes said.
The 31-year-old Canadian, known for his participation, finally birdied the 18th hole at Jackson Country Club to putt an 8-footer for the win.
But that was about the pars — a 15-footer on the par-5 14th, a 7-footer on the 16th after the green missed the fairway bunker, and two tough saves on the 18th hole from 100 feet behind the green in par and on the first teeing hole. From the existing bunker.
“I kept telling myself all week I was going to do it. That was all I had in my mind,” Hughes said. “Those fouls keep going down, I was just trying to put the ball in the hole.”
His first save on the 18th gave him a 3-under 69 to force a playoff with Straka, two teams ahead of Hughes, who shot a 67 to post a 17-under 271.
On the second playoff hole, Straka missed an 18-foot putt before Hughes holed out for the winner. It was the second time in the last four contests that Straka lost in the playoffs. Another was against Will Zalatoris early in the PGA Tour postseason.
Straka, who captured his first PGA Tour title at the Honda Classic earlier this year, played good golf on a tough Sunday.
For Hughes, it’s been six years since his lone win — also a playoff — at Sea Island.
“I was fighting like hell to stay in it,” Hughes said. “When he finishes second, while he’s still very good, it’s very annoying when you’re close. I wouldn’t have accepted that today.”
The win came a week after the Presidents Cup, and Hughes was disappointed not to be on the international team at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he lives. He wanted to use that as motivation, and it worked out perfectly that way.
Garrick Hugo of South Africa finished third with a 68. Straka took the lead at the par-5 14th and the reachable par-4 15th with an up-and-down putt for the tee. It had to be calm for Pars all day.
Hughes still had those par holes to play and nearly squandered the opportunity. He was out of position on the tee on the 14th, his wedge from a tree back into the fairway went into the rock, he had to putt again and got away with a 15-foot putt.
On the closing hole, it was left well off the tee and punched under the tree and onto the green. After the free tee, he used the putter to 3 feet from 100 feet from the green with perfect speed.
On the 18th, the first hole of the playoff, Hughes shorted a tee shot 15 feet from the tee to the pin. He blasted to 5 feet and made par.
That sent them back to the 18th for the third time and Hughes closed it out.
Mark Hubbard, who went into the final round with a one-shot lead, managed just two birdies in a round of 74 to finish tied for fifth.
Five players who had at least some level of leadership in the final round were included. That was reversed when Argentinian Emiliano Grillo triple-bogeyed the par-5 14th.
Although he was late all day and missed an 8-foot birdie putt on the 17th, Higgo was never part of the lead.