OAKVILLE, ONTARIO – Mackenzie Hughes is trying to treat this like a normal week, even though he knows that's impossible.
"I know there's not a fifth major, but it's kind of our fifth major for myself and for most of these Canadians," Hughes said ahead of this week’s RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey Golf Club, just 30 minutes from where he grew up.
The location gives the 2016 RSM Classic winner a bigger share of the spotlight and even more motivation to play well.
"It's a really cool week for us. You kind of get a glimpse of what it might feel like to be a top-10 player in the world," said Hughes, who has a special nameplate on a premium parking spot in the players' lot this week.
He added, "(It's) obviously a huge thrill with the fans, and you really feel that when you're on the golf course. If you're playing well, the crowd support can be a really big boost."
Hughes is one of 21 Canadians playing in the lone PGA Tour stop north of the border, though a Canadian hasn't won it since 1954 (it's the third-oldest tournament in professional golf after the U.S. Open and The Open Championship). He said this year is a special one with so many of his countrymen teeing it up alongside him.
"With the Canadians now on Tour and the camaraderie, I think it's awesome because you feel like there's almost strength in numbers. ... You feel like a lot of these guys can contend on a good week and have a chance to win," he said.
Hughes was the low Canadian at the event a year ago, finishing tied for 32nd after a final-round 68. He's had a tough start to this season as he adjusts to becoming a father, but he's rallied over the last few weeks: Hughes has made four straight cuts, his best run of the season, and notched back-to-back top-20 finishes earlier in July.
Though Hughes is rooting for his fellow Canadians at Glen Abbey, he wants to be the one they’re all cheering for come Sunday afternoon.
"I have some good vibes here," said Hughes. "Last year going into the weekend I think I was four back and didn't have a great Saturday, but played well again Sunday, and being low Canadian … You really felt like there was almost 10 times the support that there was the first couple days."
Hughes will be paired with 2010 U.S. Open winner Graeme McDowell and last week’s PGA Tour winner Troy Merritt for the first two rounds at Glen Abbey. Round 1 begins Thursday.