Ontario’s Mackenzie Hughes wins first PGA Tour event
SIMONS ISLAND, GA— It was a big day for Dundas’ Mackenzie Hughes on November 21, as he returned to the RSM Classic at Sea Island Resort to be one of four players competing in a playoff for the championship.
When all was said and done, Hughes sank an 18-foot par putt from off the green to claim his first PGA Tour victory with a four-day total of 17-under (61-67-68-69-265). In the process he became the first rookie in the past 20 years to go wire-to-wire for his first Tour win.
While it is the first PGA Tour win for Hughes, the 25-year-old does have a Web.Com Tour and a PGA Tour Canada win to his name. The win is not only a milestone for Hughes but also for the province of Ontario, which celebrates it’s first PGA Tour win since Mike Weir won the Fry’s Electronics Open in 2007.
“We are so proud of Mackenzie and his first win on the PGA Tour,” said Golf Ontario Executive Director Mike Kelly. “On behalf of everyone at Golf Ontario, we congratulate him and his family on this incredible accomplishment.”
Before turning professional in 2012, Hughes spent time competing in his home province as an amateur. Top three finishes at both the junior and amateur level earned him the right to represent the province on multiple occasions in inter-provincial competitions at Canadian championships. In 2012, not only did he win his second Canadian Amateur title, but Hughes also led Ontario to the Willingdon Cup as Inter-Provincial Team Champions.
In addition to competing in the inter-provincial championships, Hughes has also represented Ontario in the Can/Am Matches with the South Carolina Junior Golf Association. In 2012, he donned the maple leaf and represented Canada at the International Golf Federation (IGF) World Amateur Team Championships.
“As a junior and amateur golfer, Mackenzie has always been a tremendous ambassador for golf in Ontario and we wish him continued success on what promises to be a very successful career,” added Kelly.
Five Ontario golfers named to Golf Canada’s Young Pro Squad
Brooke Henderson, Rebecca Lee-Bentham, Sue Kim, Taylor Pendrith, Mackenzie Hughes and
Albin Choi will comprise the 2015 Team Canada Young Pro Squad
OAKVILLE, Ont. (Golf Canada) – Golf Canada is pleased to announce the six athletes – three female and three male – who have been selected to the 2015 Team Canada Young Pro Squad for the program’s second year of operation.
Comprising the team for 2015 is: Brooke Henderson (Smiths Falls, Ont.); Rebecca Lee-Bentham (Toronto); Sue Kim (Langley, B.C.); Albin Choi (Toronto); Mackenzie Hughes (Dundas, Ont.) and Taylor Pendrith (Richmond Hill, Ont.).
Developed in partnership with the PGA of Canada and supported by founding partner Canadian Pacific, as well as supporting partners Citi Canada and the Golf Canada Foundation Women’s Fund, the Young Pro Squad program bridges the gap for top graduating amateurs transitioning into professional golf.
“We are very proud of the Team Canada Young Pro Squad initiative,” said Scott Simmons, Golf Canada’s Chief Executive Officer. “We’re well ahead of where we were just a couple years ago in terms of helping to make the transition from elite amateur to the professional ranks as seamless and successful as possible.”
Headlining the female contingent is Team Canada National Amateur Team graduate Brooke Henderson. The 17-year-old declared herself as a professional golfer in conjunction with signing on with IMG as her management group in December of 2014.
In September 2014, Henderson made history by becoming the first Canadian to occupy the world’s No. 1 spot on the Women’s World Amateur Ranking. Henderson earned spots in the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open and the 2015 ANA Inspiration Championship (formerly the Kraft Nabisco Championship) as a result of her tie for 10th at the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open. In addition, Henderson is able to accept up to a maximum of six LPGA sponsor exemptions and is also eligible for Monday qualifiers.
“It’s been an unbelievable journey the past few years and now I’m excited for what lies ahead as a professional,” said Henderson, who won her first event as a professional (Suncoast Series Tour) and this past week qualified for the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic where she finished T-33. “I’ve been fortunate to be a part of the National Team program during my amateur career and now I’m proud to continue representing Team Canada as a pro.”
Joining Henderson are two returning members of the Team Canada Young Pro Squad – Rebecca Lee-Bentham and Sue Kim. Both Lee-Bentham and Kim are also graduates of Team Canada’s National Amateur Team and maintain conditional status on the LPGA Tour for the 2015 season.
Lee-Bentham, 22, was the second-highest earning Canadian on the LPGA Tour last season. She played 18 events on tour, highlighted by a tie for 12th at the Marathon Classic presented by Owens Corning & O-I. She earned conditional status on the LPGA Tour in 2015 by finishing inside the top 125 on the LPGA Tour’s Race to the CME Globe.
“I’m grateful to be back with a program that is undoubtedly working and continues to be dedicated to developing players,” said Lee-Bentham. “Golf Canada has been with me for most of my golfing career and I am honoured to represent Canada each week on the LPGA Tour.”
Sue Kim, 23, finished as No. 120 on the LPGA Tour’s Race to the CME Globe to earn conditional status for 2015. Her best finish, a tie for 35th, came at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic.
“The ongoing support from Golf Canada is a huge boost for me and my goals to improve my game and results on Tour,” added Kim. “I’m thankful to Head Coach Tristan (Mullally) and the rest of the support staff and really excited for what the future holds.”
Mackenzie Hughes and Albin Choi return as members of the Team Canada Young Pro Men’s Squad. They will be joined by newly turned professional Taylor Pendrith.
All three athletes will attend PGA TOUR Canada qualifying school in April with hopes of earning full status. Hughes, 24, is a two-time former Canadian Amateur champion. This year he hopes to repeat the success he had in 2013, when he captured the No. 1 spot on PGA TOUR Canada’s Order of Merit.
“I’m thrilled to be back on the Young Pro squad and getting the support from those who share a passion for helping me become better,” said Hughes. “The program is a huge deal; it’s helped me to focus on my goal of being successful at the highest level.”
Choi, 22, is also a former Canadian Amateur champion. His 2014 season on the Web.com Tour was highlighted by four top-30 finishes and a tie for 19th at the United Leasing Championship presented by TPI.
“Being with the Team Canada program for seven years now, it almost feels like a family,” said Choi. “Derek (Ingram), the coaching staff, and the other members of the squad are all so supportive of each other. Having that backing is a huge lift for the many challenges of competing professionally.”
Pendrith, 23, will look to hit the ground running after a successful amateur career which included winning the prestigious Monroe Invitational in 2014, as well as earning the Gary Cowan trophy (low amateur honours) at the 2014 RBC Canadian Open.
“This is a big honour for me,” said Pendrith. “I have high goals and aspirations for my career and I couldn’t think of a better team to support me in my journey. The National Team program has done a lot for my amateur career and I’m excited to transition that success over to the professional ranks.”
Men’s National Squad coach Derek Ingram and Women’s National Team coach Tristan Mullally will provide coaching to their respective Young Pro players. In addition to funding as part of the program, the athletes will have access to Team Canada’s sport science staff which includes Psychologist Dr. Adrienne Leslie-Toogood, Nutritionist Nicole Springle and Physiotherapist & Strength Coach Greg Redman.
“I’m excited to see these young athletes take the next stops as professional golfers,” said Gary Bernard, Chief Executive Officer of the PGA of Canada. “Golf Canada has shown great commitment in collaborating with the PGA of Canada in our world class teaching and coaching certification programs.”
Golf Canada’s ability to offer this program is due in large part to a focused fundraising effort on the part of the Golf Canada Foundation.
“Now in its second year, the board of the Golf Canada Foundation is excited to continue supporting these young athletes in their pursuit of golfing excellence,” said Golf Canada Foundation Chief Executive Officer Martin Barnard. “We are very proud to be behind this program and look forward to the future success of the Young Pro Squad.”
Throughout the season, Golf Canada will closely monitor the performance of elite Canadian amateurs transitioning to professional golf with the possibility of program expansion.
Four Ontarians announced to Golf Canada’s new Team Canada Young Pro Program
OAKVILLE – Golf Canada is pleased to announce the names of the athletes who have been selected to the new Team Canada Young Pro program.
In all, five athletes – three female and two male – have been chosen to the inaugural Team Canada Young Pro Squad, with four of the members coming from Ontario. Developed in partnership with the PGA of Canada and supported in large part by the Golf Canada Foundation, the Young Pro program was created to bridge the gap between amateur and professional performance on the international golfing stage.
“There has been a critical gap for our top amateur golfers making the difficult jump to professional golf and the launch of the Team Canada Young Pro initiative is designed to bridge that gap,” said Golf Canada CEO Scott Simmons. “We have seen tremendous results for Team Canada amateur athletes at national, international and collegiate competitions. With the launch of Young Pro, we expect those strong results to carry over to the professional ranks including the PGA and LPGA Tours, the various developmental tours and ultimately the Olympic Games beginning in 2016.”
A trio of LPGA players including Rebecca Lee-Bentham of Toronto, Jennifer Kirby of Paris, Ont., and Sue Kim of Langley, B.C., will join the new Young Pro squad. All three players are graduates of Golf Canada’s National Amateur Squad and have secured full playing status for the LPGA Tour’s 2014 season. Bentham, 22, was the top-earning Canadian on the LPGA Tour last season after finishing a personal best T-11 at the Evian Championship. Kirby, 23, earned her spot after a fifth place finish at the LPGA’s Final Qualifying in December. Kim, 23, secured her full card by finishing in sixth on the LPGA’s Symetra Tour’s Volvik Race to the Card.
“I feel so fortunate to once again, have the opportunity to be a part of a program that is so dedicated to developing players,” said Rebecca Lee-Bentham. “Golf Canada, without a doubt, has helped me tremendously throughout my amateur career and has led me to where I am today. It is an honour to represent Canada each week on the LPGA tour and having the opportunity to play for Canada at the Olympics would mean more than words can describe.”
“I am incredibly grateful to have been selected for the Young Pro program,” said Jennifer Kirby. “Golf Canada has always been supportive of my career and I am proud to be an ambassador of this important program in my inaugural season on the LPGA Tour.”
On the men’s side, Web.com Tour players Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont., and Toronto’s Albin Choi debut as the first two male members of the Team Canada Young Pro program. A two-time Canada Amateur champion, Hughes, 23, finished the 2013 season atop PGA TOUR Canada’s Order of Merit after capturing the Cape Breton Celtic Classic. Choi, 22, is also a former Canadian Amateur champion who earned his ticket to the Web.com Tour after a 15th place finish at final qualifying in December.
“I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to be a part of Team Canada and the new young pro squad,” said Mackenzie Hughes. “The coaching and support staff has played a big role in my development and my transition to pro golf. I also want to thank the Golf Canada Foundation as well as all the sponsors and donors that have made this program possible.”
“I am very excited to be back with the national team and part of the program,” added Albin Choi. “I have been with Team Canada for over six years and have always appreciated the support and having a team around me. Most pros lose that support structure from a national or college team as soon as they turn pro and it’s easy to get lost. It’s great to have an opportunity to have a team behind me with my best interests in mind.”
Each member of the Young Pro squad will receive funding as well as access to Team Canada’s coaching staff and sport science experts. Men’s National Squad coach Derek Ingram and Women’s National Team coach Tristan Mullally will provide coaching to their respective Young Pro players. In addition, the athletes will have access to Team Canada’s sport science staff that includes psychologist, Dr. Adrienne Leslie-Toogood, strength and conditioning coach, Jason Glass, nutritionist, Nicole Springle and physiotherapist Greg Redman.
“I congratulate Golf Canada on the launch of this exceptional program,” said PGA of Canada CEO Gary Bernard. “The commitment Golf Canada has shown in collaborating with the PGA of Canada in our world class teaching and coaching certification programs is commendable.”
The Team Canada Young Pro initiative has been in the works for more than a year as an extension of Golf Canada’s National Amateur Team program. The 2014 launch is a direct result of the fundraising support of the Golf Canada Foundation.
“On behalf of the board of the Golf Canada Foundation, we’re proud to help support these talented young golfers in their pursuit of competitive golfing excellence,” said Golf Canada Foundation CEO Martin Barnard. “In the coming months, we look forward to announcing more fundraising activities as well as donors and corporate partners to extend the program to more Canadian athletes.”