JACKSON, Miss. – Mackenzie Hughes thinks he has a chance to be selected for the Presidents Trophy because of his putting. The strength of his play helped him improve to a 9-over 63 on Friday and take a share of the lead in the Sanderson Farms Championship.
Hughes birdied the final two holes at Jackson Country Club to catch Belgium’s Thomas Detrey, who played earlier in the day, and shot a second straight 67.
They were 10-under 134 ahead of Sep Straka (66).
Hughes finished at No. 39 in the world last year, but the Canadian has slipped enough this year that he had to rely on captaincy for the Presidents Cup games in Charlotte, North Carolina, where Hughes now lives.
He was ignored and Hughes did not hide his disappointment when asked about it after Wednesday. Trevor Immelman used his last pick on another Canadian, Taylor Pendridge, who missed four months this summer with an injury. Immelman mentions that Pendrite’s power is a good fit for Quail Hollow.
Hughes has been ranked among the top 15 in each of the past three years.
“I thought a good import would do well in that format,” Hughes said. “But it’s not for me to decide whether I’m a good fit.” I’m just using it as fuel, I want to have a good season and I’m off to a good start.
“It hurts a lot, but that’s how it is sometimes in this game. I’ll work hard to be on that team in two years in Montreal.”
Detri’s goal is to be in Rome for the Ryder Cup next year. The 29-year-old from Belgium is a PGA Tour rookie, although he has experience on the European Tour and won the World Cup in Australia four years ago with close friend Thomas Pieters.
He also made three birdies of 20 feet or more in the second round to putt on the pristine greens at Jackson Country Club.
“I’ve only done 240 feet the last two days, so that helps,” Detry said. “Although I missed a pair of shorts, but that’s okay, I can’t complain about the transmitter. It was great.”
He also rested a little. Detri had qualified for the Korn Ferry Tour Finals the year before and opted to stay in Europe, a decision he later regretted. He qualified again and earned his PGA Tour card in three consecutive tournaments.
But he logged some serious miles along the way.
Safe on the card, he flew to London for the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, the main event of the European Tour, then flew across eight time zones at the start of the PGA Tour season in California. At least he got a break last week.
Holding the card at the Korn Ferry Tour means Detri will not have access to every race, and priority will change every month depending on the fee.
“Obviously you’re not going to get into every event, so you have to take your chances in the first event you get into,” he said. “You have to try to put points on the board as fast as you can, and that’s what I did.”
He’s tied for fifth at Wentworth and 12th at the Fortinet Championship and enters the weekend in a tie with Hughes in Mississippi, so it’s off to a strong start.
Austrian Straka, who won this year’s Honda Classic for his first PGA Tour title, birdied five of his last seven holes. He had the opportunity to join his fellow leaders. He missed a quick 6-footer down the hill on the 17th and a 20-footer on the 18th.
Mark Hubbard (69), Garrick Higgo (66) and Scott Stallings (67) were two shots back, while Mississippi native Davis Riley managed a 71 in the morning and was in a three-shot tie with Nick Hardy, one of Detri’s best friends. from his college days at Illinois.
Defending champion Sam Burns had a total of 68 and was five shots back.