Mackenzie Hughes returns to golf’s Team Canada

Golf Canada has unveiled the six athletes – two female and four male – who have been selected to the 2016 Team Canada Young Pro Squad. They are: Sue Kim (Langley, B.C.); Augusta James (Bath, Ont.); Albin Choi (Toronto); Mackenzie Hughes (Dundas, Ont.) Taylor Pendrith (Richmond Hill, Ont.); and Corey Conners (Listowel, Ont.).

Mackenzie Hughes (Photo: Golf Association of Ontario)

Mackenzie Hughes (Photo: Golf Association of Ontario)

The focus of the Young Pro Squad – now in its third year – is to bridge the gap for top graduating amateurs transitioning into professional golf. The program was developed in partnership with the PGA of Canada and is generously funded by founding partners Canadian Pacific and RBC, as well as supporting partners Citi Canada and the Golf Canada Foundation Women’s Fund.

On the men’s side, four members of the 2015 Young Pro Squad return to the program this year.

Taylor Pendrith is back after a breakthrough season in which the 24-year-old compiled three runner-up finishes and two additional Top-10 finishes on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada. The Kent State alumnus also tallied two Top-25 finishes on the Tour to cap an impressive rookie year as a professional. Pendrith finished third on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada Order of Merit to become one of five athletes to graduate onto the Tour with granted status for 2016.

Mackenzie Hughes and Albin Choi, both members of the Young Pro Squad since its inception, will return for a third consecutive year.

Hughes, 25, earned status on the Tour in 2016 with a T21 finish at stage-three of Qualifying School in December. A former two-time Canadian Men’s Amateur champion, Hughes’ season featured seven Top-25 finishes on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada, with his best result a T3 finish at the ATB Financial Classic. The former Kent State Golden Flash finished 13th on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada’s Order of Merit in 2015.

“The ongoing support from Golf Canada and the program supporters is a huge boost for me and my goals to improve my game,” said Hughes. “I’m very thankful for what the Young Pro program has meant to my career and continued development.”

Choi recorded three Top-10 finishes including a victory on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada in 2015 to finish the year sixth on the Tour’s Order of Merit. An Amateur Squad graduate, Choi also added two wins on the SwingThought Tour to his résumé in 2015. The 23-year-old former Canadian Men’s Amateur champion will hold conditional status on the Tour this season as a result of his T14 finish at stage-three of Qualifying School.

Rounding out the male contingent is three-time Amateur Squad member Corey Conners. In 2015, the 24-year-old recorded two Top-10 finishes on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada, two Top-25 results on the Tour and a T3 finish on the PGA Tour Latinoamérica. Conners – who competed in the 2015 Masters because of a runner-up finish at the 2014 U.S. Amateur, finished his rookie year as a professional at No. 37 on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada Order of Merit. He recently earned medalist honours at PGA Tour-Latino America Qualifying School to secure his playing status on that Tour in 2016.

This is his fifth year with the Team Canada program.

Heading up the female contingent is long-standing Amateur Squad member Augusta James, who is looking to build on a strong year competing on the Symetra Tour in 2015. Her rookie campaign was highlighted by a victory at the Chico’s Patty Berg Memorial and two runner-up finishes. The 22-year-old finished at No. 12 on the Volvik Race for the Card money list. A former Canadian Women’s Amateur champion and three-time Amateur Squad member, James will return to the Symetra Tour in 2016 with priority status.

Joining James on the Women’s Young Pro Squad is Sue Kim, who has been with the program since its inception in 2014. The 24-year-old had a win at the Symetra Tour’s Florida Natural Charity Classic to go alongside two additional Top-25 finishes. Kim completed the season at No. 32 on the Volvik Race for the Card money list and will hold priority status on the Symetra Tour for 2016.

Men’s National Squad coach Derek Ingram and Women’s National Team coach Tristan Mullally, both PGA of Canada Class “A” members, will provide coaching to their respective Young Pro athletes. In addition to funding and coaching support, the athletes will have access to Team Canada’s sport science staff, which includes Psychologist Dr. Adrienne Leslie-Toogood, and Physiotherapist & Strength Coach Greg Redman.

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