ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Eat your heart out, SungJae Im, there’s a new iron man on the PGA Tour and his name is Mark Hubbard.
Im played in a league-leading 35 Tour events twice in the last five years but took it easy this year settling for a modest 31. The 34-year-old Hubbard raced past Im for iron man honors, making a PGA Tour record 39 starts during the 2022-23 wrap-around season (which counted the FedEx Cup Fall too so an asterisk needs to be applied to this mark but it’s impressive nevertheless).
His social media handle on X (formerly Twitter) is @HomelessHubbs after all, so being a road warrior is part of his makeup, and he mused that it probably dates back to his parents getting divorced before he was five years old and sharing custody.
“I just kind of grew up going back and forth between their houses, do three days here and there. So I feel like unknowingly that kind of groomed me for this life and I’ve just always kind of felt like very comfortable being a gypsy,” he said. “When I’m home or in one place for too long, I start to go a little stir crazy.”
Hubbard, who compiled six top-10 finishes this season and crossed the $2-million-mark in earnings for the first time, said he didn’t intend to play quite so much but he likes many of the fall events, including the Fortinet Championship in Napa, California, and the Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, Mississippi, where he’s had good results. He ended up playing all seven FedEx Cup Fall events this go-round, which is one reason his number of starts reached an all-time high, as he chased status into the Signature Events in 2024.
“I feel like I spent, like I spent the whole season on the bubble of that barrier to get into the top 50,” said Hubbard, who finished 67th in the FedEx Cup regular season, his second best season during his career, earning a spot in the first FedEx Cup Playoff event in Memphis. “In hindsight, I wish I was a little more rested for the playoffs.”
And he would’ve played less this fall had he not been in pursuit of finishing in ‘’The Next 10,’ which guaranteed entry for Nos. 51-60 in the standings to qualify for AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am (where he proposed to his wife and went to school up the road at San Jose State) and the Genesis Invitational at Riviera, which he called just about every pro’s favorite course on Tour and located just eight minutes away from his brother’s home.
“If it were San Diego and Waste Management that were the Signature Events, I probably would’ve played four less times in the fall but because those two events are so special to me I was motivated to keep playing.”
Mark Hubbard in the pro-am ahead of the 2023 Butterfield Bermuda Championship at Port Royal Golf Course in Southampton, Bermuda. (Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Hubbard came up short, finishing No. 67 in the FedEx Cup Fall, but he genuinely enjoys playing rather than practicing. Hubbard, who once played 11 straight events including the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, never played more than four straight this season and said he usually needs the first week to dust off the rust and plays his best in the next three weeks of a four-week stretch. Perhaps the most impressive part of his iron man season is that he did it while traveling for much of it with his wife and two kids under the age of three. The hardest part might have been those stretches when he was flying solo, he said.
“Take away just the mental fatigue and, you know, the physical fatigue of playing 39 events, I would say that was probably the hardest part for me this year is those stretches where I had to go two weeks without seeing them,” he said.
How much will Hubbard play in 2024? The new schedule of a calendar-year season presents a big unknown but he guesses he will still be a road warrior.
“Guys like myself outside that top 50 are going to end up having to play more than they normally do, if they’re really trying to get into those [Signature] events. Because you got three weeks or so leading up to qualify for them and then if you do get into those events then you got to play those too, but then you’re not necessarily in the next [Signature] event, so you got to keep playing… in a perfect world, I’ll play less than 30 events next year.”
But don’t bet on it. Homeless Hubbs is the new Sungjae Im.