By Billy Watkins
Canadian Mackenzie Hughes won the 2022 Sanderson Farms Championship with a birdie on the second playoff hole Sunday at the Country Club of Jackson.
He earned $1.4 million and 5o0 FedEx Cup points. He is exempt on the PGA Tour through 2025. And he is eligible for next year’s Master’s, PGA Championship, The Players, and the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
“I’m over the moon,” Hughes said.
When he comes down, it will probably hit him how he got into the playoff against Sepp Straka.
Yes, 34 yards.
Tied for the lead and Straka already finished, the 31-year-old Hughes hooked his tee-shot on the 476-yard par-4 18th hole. He had birdied the hole twice in the first three rounds. With a large oak in his way, his only option was to hit a low stinger from 161 yards. It rolled off the back of the hard, slick green — 34 yards from the cup.
Hughes chose to putt instead of chip it, and his near-perfect stroke nestled the ball just inside four feet beneath the hole. He rolled it in to force the playoff.
“You just don’t practice putts that are that long,” Hughes said. “It was super fast. I just kept telling myself that I was going to two-putt. I was going to get down there and I was going to make it.
“My mental demeanor, my outlook has been so much better. I’ve been trying to be really positive. I’ve been trying to tell myself that I’m really good, and I think it’s easy in this game to go the other way and to beat yourself up sometimes.”
It was Hughes’ second win on the PGA Tour — his first since winning the 2016 RSM Classic in a four-way playoff just nine starts into his rookie season.
Hughes had the best round of the tournament, a 63 on Friday. But all four days, he showed a lot of grit and an amazing ability to get up and down. He was 23 of 25 in that department.
“I just grinded by butt off, and luckily it was good enough,” Hughes said.
Hughes said the best part was having his family with him. He and wife Jenna have two children and one on the way. They reside in Charlotte.
“I put in long hours, and I haul my family across the country a lot, and they put up with the silly hours and the travel and all that stuff for me,” Hughes said. “To have a cool moment like this with them, to see them run on the green to see me — words can’t describe how good that feels because I love them so much, and my family is growing, which is incredible.”
Hughes entered Sunday in second place, one shot behind Mark Hubbard, who shot 74 Sunday.
Straka, 29, who was born in Austria and moved to Georgia with his family when he was 14, simply got outplayed on the final hole. He earned $861,100.
“Disappointed but I played really well today,” Straka said. “I shot 67 on a Sunday, came from behind and got myself in a playoff. Mac played great, birdieing 18. That is not an easy hole.
“Yeah, happy for him. I’m excited. Happy the game is in good shape, and looking forward to next week.”
Tupelo native Hayden Buckley shot a 7-under 65 Sunday to finish 10-under, seven shots back. Hattiesburg’s Davis Riley tied with Buckley with a final-round 71. Both picked up a check for $97,091.