ANCASTER, Ont. — Mackenzie Hughes believes it’s going to happen. He thinks Canada’s 65-year drought at its own men’s golf championship is almost at an end.
It’s one of the most reliable storylines of every RBC Canadian Open — will a Canadian win the trophy? Will Pat Fletcher’s victory in 1954 be pushed aside as the most recent title won by a Canadian on home soil?
"I’m going to go out on a limb and say the next five to seven years there will be a Canadian winner," said Hughes. "I’m hoping it’s next year. Could be seven. Very soon there will be one of us hoisting this trophy."
Adam Hadwin (70) of Abbotsford, B.C., finished sixth at 12 under to win the Rivermead Cup as lowest Canadian pro player at the tournament. He was aiming for a spot in next week’s U.S. Open but was pleased to lock up a berth in the British Open.
Hughes (71), from nearby Dundas, Ont., finished in a tie for 14th at 8 under. Ben Silverman (69) of Thornhill, Ont., tied for 20th, Abbotsford’s Nick Taylor (72) tied for 27th, Roger Sloan (73) of Merritt, B.C., tied for 56th and Toronto’s Richard Jung (74) was 69th.
Twenty other Canadians missed the cut.
Hadwin, Hughes, Silverman and Taylor were all within four shots of the leaders after two rounds. They played in four consecutive pairings on Saturday.
Golf Canada confirmed that there have not been four Canadians playing consecutive pairings in the third or fourth round of the national championship in at least 40 years.
"I think it proves a lot to not only us as players, but the golfing fans across the country that there is a bunch of us out here and we’re here to stay," said Hughes. "We’re here to play well and we’re going to contend for championships for years to come."
Hughes was in full agreement with Hadwin, adding that the women’s side of the sport is just as strong, if not stronger.
Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont., won the CP Women’s Open last summer, ending a drought for that title dating back to 1973 when Jocelyne Bourassa of Shawinigan, Que., won it. Henderson has also tied the record for most professional golf titles by a Canadian, with eight.
"Canadian golf is the strongest it’s ever been, and that’s the female and male side," said Hughes. "It’s really exciting to be a part of it and one of the guys in with a chance. We’ll all keep pushing each other to try and end this drought."
Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy earned a dominant seven-stroke victory over the Canadian Open field on Sunday, but Hadwin is still encouraged by the Canadian showing.
"No longer can we speak about golf in Canada being in a good state," said Hadwin. "We’re going out and proving it week in and week out."