Mackenzie Hughes is a golf enthusiast and a huge fan of golfing legend Tiger Woods, but as the two caddies played together on a recent golf outing, Hughes had a moment he’ll never forget. Tiger Woods’ caddie, Chris DiMarco, recently shared thestory with foxsports.com, warning that it probably won’t happen again.
It takes a lot of courage to ask a sports legend to sign an autograph for his or her biggest fan. But that’s exactly what Mackenzie Hughes did when he asked Tiger Woods to sign his baseball card. “I was really nervous, I got so close to him,” Mackenzie told CNN. “I thought, ‘oh my gosh, am I going to be able to ask him?’ But I’m really grateful that he signed it, because I’ll treasure it forever.”It can be argued that the vast majority of the younger generation of PGA Tour golfers have been inspired by Tiger Woods. Mackenzie Hughes considers himself one of those players, as he was idolized by the Tigers growing up in Canada and became the best amateur in the country before turning pro in 2012.
In 2018, Hughes finally got his first chance to play alongside Woods at The Players Championship and was understandably nervous. As many professionals have said in the past, playing with Tiger is different than playing with anyone else because he has long held the biggest galleries in golf, regardless of his position on the leaderboard.
But after admitting he had goosebumps in his first round with Tiger, Hughes, who had been offered the chance to play against Woods two months earlier but turned it down, played his best round of the season and even struck up a friendly with Tiger, which isn’t always easy.
More than three years after that round, Hughes got the chance to do what only Tiger could do: win the US Open at Torrey Pines.
Mackenzie Hughes had the chance to face Tiger Woods for the first time at Bay Hill in March 2018, but didn’t dare
Since his permanent entry to the PGA Tour prior to the 2016/17 season, Hughes has not had the opportunity to speak with Tiger, as Woods played just one tournament in 2016 and three in 2017 following multiple back surgeries.
Tiger finally returned to the tour on a regular basis in 2018. His fifth tournament was one of his regular stops on the PGA Tour, the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, where he has won eight times. And that’s where Hughes got his first chance to meet his childhood idol.
Hughes was five feet away from Woods in the locker room, but he didn’t have the courage to go up to him and greet him. Later he said he just sat quietly and listened to what Tiger said.
Tiger Woods and Mackenzie Hughes during the third round of the 2018 Players Championship | David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Two months later, at The Players Championship, Hughes and Woods were 36 holes behind the leaders and were designated to play the third round at TPC Sawgrass, hitting the course five hours before the final group kicked off.
Hughes did not play well, and his appearance at The Players tournament was just his fourth in 16 starts during the 2017-18 season. But he felt the adrenaline of playing alongside his idol and took to the course and posted a 4-under 68, his lowest score of the season. Woods also played well, carding a 7-under 65 and briefly in the top 10 of the leaderboard.
Hughes spoke to the press after the round and said he enjoyed his first match with Woods, although he admitted he was very nervous and even said he didn’t look like a total jerk when talking to Tiger. But he was very pleased with his game, even if the butterflies in his stomach didn’t disappear immediately before the round (h/t Golfweek).
I had a pretty bad year, and in an environment like that, all the energy really goes out of you. It’s 90 degrees outside, but I can assure you that goosebumps ran down my spine when I heard some of the players scream and concede: Hey, I’m playing with Tiger Woods! It was fun.
Mackenzie Hughes talks about his first match with Tiger Woods
As for talking during the round, Hughes said he was careful in his choice of seats, as Woods is known for not communicating too much with his playing partners as he concentrates on his game. Hughes said they had talked a bit about football and the usual stuff. But he made it a point to say how great it was to get to know Tiger better.
It’s been more than three years since Hughes pulled this trick on Tiger, and now the 30-year-old has put himself in position to win the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, the same course where Woods infamously won his last U.S. Open, even predicting victory despite a broken leg.
After starting the week with a round of 2-over 73, Hughes shot an excellent 4-under 68 on Friday, putting him just three strokes behind leaders Russell Henley and Richard Bland. Hughes shot a 3-under 68 on Saturday and was in first place in the standings with Henley and Louis Oosthuizen entering the final round on Sunday.
The highlight of Hughes’ third round was the par-5 13th, where he hit an eagle at 63 feet to finish 32nd. In Tiger’s third round at the 2008 U.S. Open, he made a similar putt for an eagle on this hole, and Hughes knew it. After his round, he mentioned Woods’ putt and said the situations were slightly different because his putt went from left to right and Woods’ went from right to left. And he’s absolutely right about that. Take a look.
Will Hughes follow Woods as U.S. Open champion at Torrey Pines? We’ll know soon enough.
COMPARED TO: Tiger Woods wins the US Open
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