Playing for his late friend, Hughes turns his season around
March 01, 2020
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
Mackenzie Hughes' Round 4 highlights from Honda
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Whenever Mackenzie Hughes looked down at the initials on his golf ball, he remembered how lucky he is to play golf for living.
The “DM” on his ball was for his friend, Daniel Meggs, who passed away last week after a battle with colon cancer. Meggs was just 29 years old and died weeks before his wife was due to give birth to their first child, a son.
Meggs played golf at Wake Forest. His battle with cancer made headlines last year after Tiger Woods sent him an inspirational video message from the Masters. Hughes’ eyes began to water as he closed Sunday’s press conference by talking about his friend.
“I just want to tell Daniel, who’s up in a better place now, and his family, that I’m really thinking about them,” Hughes said. “Daniel was an incredible human being. I always play for myself, but I looked down at my ball every now and then and just reminded myself that it’s a blessing to be able to have another round of golf, to continue playing this great game and I know what he wouldn’t give for another chance to play a round of golf or to be with his family.”
Hughes almost became the first player since Brandt Snedeker at the 2016 Farmers Insurance Open to win after making the cut on the number. He shot consecutive 66s on the weekend after shooting 3-over-par on the first 36 holes. He finished one shot behind winner Sungjae Im. Hughes’ 66 matched the low score in Sunday’s final round of The Honda Classic.
Hughes briefly tied the lead after holing a 54-foot birdie putt on 17, but Im regained a one-shot lead by making an 8-foot putt of his own. Hughes had a chance to go for the 18th green in two, but badly hooked his fairway wood into the grandstands and could only make par.
Hughes’ weekend total of 132 was three shots lower than anyone else in the field. Hughes, winner of the 2016 RSM Classic, had struggled this season, missing 9 of 11 cuts. He’d earned just 10 FedExCup points before this week. His college coach at Kent State, Herb Page, texted Hughes on Friday night saying, “The hard part is over.”
“It kind of loosened me up a little bit and I said, ‘Let’s just go out there and play golf and see what happens,’” Hughes said.
He turned around his season while playing for his late friend.