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LA JOLLA, Calif. — Mackenzie Hughes was having the tournament of a lifetime, and it all got derailed by a once-in-a-lifetime bit of bad course luck.
The Canadian began Sunday with a share of the lead at the U.S. Open. He'd only played in eight majors before, and missed the cut in six of them, so this wasn't exactly familiar territory. He bogeyed three of his first six holes, and his championship chances seemed to evaporate.
But then he birdied his way back into competition, drawing to within two strokes of the lead. And then came the 11th hole. Hughes' tee shot somehow went through a tree on the left side of the hole, bounced off a cart path, and then settled back in the tree. You can see it here:
As fans surrounded Hughes, chanting "shake the tree!", Hughes' caddie asked if that was legal. Told it was not, Hughes opted to take an unplayable lie and chip up from near the cart path. Hughes would go on to double-bogey the hole, which ended up leaving him three strokes behind leader and playing partner Louis Oosthuizen.
This was already the most successful major Hughes has ever played. Now, he's got a strange little story to go with it.
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