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Mackenzie Hughes holds off Sepp Straka on second playoff hole for PGA victory

Mackenzie Hughes lined up a putt on the 18th green during the final round of the Sanderson Farms Championship.Jonathan Bachman/Getty

Whether it was sheer confidence or remarkable resilience, Mackenzie Hughes never doubted he would win the Sanderson Farms Championship. He just never imagined how it would unfold Sunday evening.

Hughes had to make six key putts on the final seven holes — four of them for par — to outlast Sepp Straka on the second playoff hole for his second PGA Tour victory.

“The second one felt a lot harder than the first one, that’s for sure,” Hughes said.

The 31-year-old Canadian renowned for his putter finally made birdie his third time playing the 18th hole at the Country Club of Jackson, pouring in an 8-footer for the win.

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But this was as much about pars — the 15-footer on the par-5 14th, the 7-foot putt on the 16th after he couldn’t reach the green from a fairway bunker, and two tough par saves on the 18th hole from 100 feet behind the green in regulation and from a bunker on the first playoff hole.

“I kept telling myself the whole week that I was going to do it. That was the only thing I saw in my mind,” Hughes said. “Those par saves down the stretch, I was just trying to will the ball into the hole.”

The first par save on the 18th gave him a 3-under-par 69 to force a playoff against Straka, who played two groups ahead of Hughes and shot 67 to post a 17-under 271.

On the second playoff hole, Straka missed from 18 feet on the fringe before Hughes made the winning putt. It was the second time in his last four tournaments that Straka lost in a playoff. The other was against Will Zalatoris at the start of the PGA Tour postseason.

“I played good golf on a tough Sunday,” said Straka, who picked up his first PGA Tour title earlier this year at the Honda Classic. “Giving yourself chances to win out here it key. The more you can do that, the more comfortable you’ll be.”

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For Hughes, it had been six years since his lone victory — also in a playoff — at Sea Island.

“I was fighting like hell to stay in it,” Hughes said. “Finishing second, while it’s still great, it kind of stings when you’re that close. I just wasn’t going to accept that today.”

Garrick Higgo of South Africa had a 68 and finished third. Higgo never was part of the lead, though he lingered the entire day and missed an 8-foot birdie putt on the 17th that ultimately kept him out of the playoff.

Straka took the lead by getting up and down for birdie on the par-5 14th and the reachable par-4 15th. He had to settle for pars the rest of the day.

Hughes had those scoring holes still to play, and he nearly squandered the chance. On the 14th, he was out of position off the tee, his wedge over a tree back toward the fairway came up short in a bunker, he had to lay up again and escaped with a 15-foot par putt.

On the closing hole, he was well left off the tee and punched under a tree and over the green against the grandstand. After free relief, he used putter from 100 feet away off the green with perfect pace to 3 feet for.

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On the first playoff hole at the 18th, Hughes came up short in a bunker with only about 15 feet from the edge of the bunker to the pin. He blasted out to 5 feet and made par.

That sent them back to the 18th for a third time, and Hughes closed him out.

Mark Hubbard, who went into the final round with a one-shot lead, managed only two birdies in his round of 74 and tied for fifth.

LPGA — Charley Hull put a little extra time into putting practice and it paid off for her in a big way Sunday when she ran off four birdies on the back nine for a 7-under-par 64 to win The Ascendant LPGA.

Hull won for the first time on the LPGA Tour in nearly six years, and the 26-year-old from England crossed the $1 million mark in season earnings.

She loved the theater of the final hour at Old American Golf Club at The Colony, Texas, as much as soaking herself with champagne when she held one for a one-shot victory.

“I found it exciting,” Hull said. “When Janet made eagle on 17, I enjoyed that. It made me want to birdie the last. It was great fun.”

Janet is the nickname for Xiyu Lin of China, and she roared into the mix with a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-3 16th and then a 35-foot eagle putt at the par-5 17th. That gave Lin a share of the lead, but only momentarily.

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Hull hit a lob wedge from 78 yards to 4 feet on the 17th and made that for her final birdie, taking a one-shot lead to the final hole.

The pin on the 18th was all the way back, with a huge slope just left of the green. Hull went at the flag, tugged it a little and watched it stay on the collar left of the flag. Lin, who closed with a 65, put her approach on the green, just inside Hull’s.

Lin’s birdie putt to force a playoff lost speed and missed just to the left. It was her third runner-up finish this year, and second in the last month. She wiped away tears when it was over.

“It’s funny, my coach and I had a joke, trying to see how high of a world ranking I can get without a win. I mean, it’s not fun, but it’s fun,” Lin said. “Any other week, I mean there is 140 players out there and I came up second. It [stinks], but at the other side, it’s good.”

Lydia Ko also was in the mix and was tied for the lead until missing a couple of birdie chances from inside 10 feet. She shot 65 and finished third, which moved Ko to the top of the Race to CME Globe standings.

No one could keep up with Hull. She began her run with a wedge to 5 feet for birdie on No. 12, and then hit a superb pitch from behind the green on the par-5 13th to 2 feet. She watched anxiously as her approach to the 14th was in the air, and it settled 12 feet away for yet another birdie.

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Hull was so dialed in that she had chances on the next two holes from inside 10 feet and narrowly missed them. But she stayed ahead all the way to the end.

Atthaya Thitikul, the 19-year-old from Thailand who won last week in Arkansas, needed a win to reach No. 1 in the women’s world ranking. She shot 67 and finished alone in fourth, moving to No. 2 ahead of Nelly Korda.

European — Ryan Fox paid tribute to his former amateur teammate Shane Warne after claiming a one-shot victory at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in St. Andrews, Scotland.

New Zealand’s Fox had finished second in last year’s team event in Scotland alongside former Australia cricket great Warne, who died earlier this year.

Fox made seven birdies and three bogeys in the fourth round on the Old Course at St. Andrews to secure his third European tour title title.

“To be honest the only person I can really think of at the moment is Warne,” Fox said. “He meant a lot to me and this event and was a great mate. It’s a terrible shame he’s not here.”

Fox’s mother and father — former All Blacks star Grant Fox — are in Europe for a month and were at St Andrews to witness an impressive closing 68, which took Fox to 15 under par overall, one stroke ahead of Callum Shinkwin (67) and Alex Noren (69).

Fox went into the final round four shots off the lead but three birdies in his first seven holes saw him hit the front before a combination of great approach play and brilliance on the greens helped the 35-year-old Kiwi extend his advantage to three strokes with three to play.

Fox had a late scare at the 17th but managed to limit the damage to just one dropped shot before safely parring the last.

Rory McIlroy (66) finished in a tie for fourth on 13 under after making seven birdies and a single bogey.

Overnight leader Richard Mansell (76) finished tied for seventh.

The event was played over three of Scotland’s storied courses: Carnoustie, Kingsbarns and the Old Course at the home of golf.