Hughes take lead in defence of amateur crown

Mackenzie Hughes (Photo: Golf Association of Ontario)

Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas sat atop the leader board at 12-under par 204 through 54 holes at the 108th playing of the Canadian Men’s Amateur Championship at Camelot Golf and Country Club in Cumberland, Ont.

Hughes, the defending Canadian Men’s Amateur titleholder and a member of Team Canada’s National Squad, carded a competitive course record third-round score of 7-under par 65 to take a single-stroke advantage over Chris Hemmerich of Kitchener. into Friday’s final round. Hemmerich is in possession of second place at 11-under par 205.

“Today was a much different day than yesterday [Wednesday],” said Hughes, who posted a bogey-free round on Thursday (Aug.9) that included seven birdies, three of which came on his last five holes of the day.

“I actually played better (Wednesday), but today things just went a little bit better. I got up and down a couple of more times when I missed the greens, and had that bonus there on the last hole [No. 18] chipping in when I was just trying to make par. It was a nice way to finish.”

Hughes, a recent graduate of Kent State University, will look to draw upon last year’s Canadian Men’s Amateur Championship experience at Niakwa Country Club in Winnipeg as he looks to defend his title.

“It’s nice to know that you’ve done it and that you can do it, so I kind of was drawing on that today,” said Hughes. “Also, with the type of golf course this is, it’s yielding low scores, so I knew I’d have to go out and shoot a low score just to get back into contention. I plan to do the same thing tomorrow that I was doing today.”

Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont. sits third at 9-under par 207, three shots off the lead, while Taylor Pendrith of Richmond Hill, Ont. is fourth at 8-under par 208, four shots back of Hughes. Oakville’s Brian Churchill-Smith rounds out the top-five at 7-under par 209, five strokes back.

Six players were tied for sixth seven strokes off the lead at 5-under par 211, including Team Canada Development Squad member Kevin Kwon of Pitt Meadows, B.C., Alexis Gemme Piacente of Montreal, and James White of Acworth, Ga.

Toronto’s Albin Choi, who captured the Canadian Men’s Amateur Championship title in 2010, is tied for 15th with a three-day tally of 3-under par 213. Choi, a member of Team Canada’s National Squad, posted a round of 1-under par 71 on Thursday.

Blair Hamilton of Burlington was in 12th place with scores of 71-66-75 for 212. Not making the cut were: Luke Ovenden, Georgetown; Un Cho, Ancaster; Sean Carlino, Hamilton; Sean Bozuk, Burlington; Brad Altenhoff, Burlington; Robert Ellis, St. Catharines; and Luke Atack, Hamilton.

The winner of Canada’s oldest national golf championship will earn exemptions into both the 2013 RBC Canadian Open at the historic Glen Abbey Golf Club as well as the 2012 U.S. Amateur Championship at Cherry Hills Country Club in Cherry Hills Village, Colo. Additionally, the winner is eligible to receive exemptions into the U.S. Amateur Public Links, U.S. Junior Amateur, U.S. Mid-Amateur & USGA Senior Amateur Championship, if applicable.