U.S. Open

Pinehurst Resort & Country Club (Course No. 2)

Cursed Image

U.S. Open 2021: Mackenzie Hughes’ Toronto Maple Leafs yardage book doesn’t exactly bode well for his chances

In case you hadn’t heard, Mackenzie Hughes, who sits atop the leaderboard at 2021 U.S. Open after 54 holes, is Canadian. In case you hadn’t also heard, Canadians love hockey. Maybe you think this is a stereotype—a sweeping generalization designed to humanize a guy who even weekly PGA Tour viewers don’t know much about. Maybe you think it’s lazy journalism. Maybe you're right, but you clearly haven’t seen his yardage book . . .

Honestly, awesome stuff. Nothing says “step off, punk” like some blue croc and we’re all for these guys wearing their hearts on their sleeves or, in this case, their yardage books. When it comes to Hughes’ chances down the stretch on Sunday, however, it’s not exactly a good sign.

As any equally passionate pucks nut will tell you, no North American sports franchise is as synonymous with choking as the Toronto Maple Leafs. They’re current owners of the longest active Stanley Cup drought in the NHL at 53 seasons, which ties the New York Rangers’ run between 1941 and 1994 as the longest of all time. When the puck drops next season, they’ll be alone at the top or, rather, bottom.

This year was supposed to be the year to break that curse. The roster was stacked. A mixture of peaking talent and experienced veterans. They had a 3-1 series lead over their dreaded rivals the Canadians in the first round of the playoffs and proceeded to lose three straight. In 2013, they lead the Bruins 4-1 in the third period of Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series and somehow managed to lose 5-4. This is just some of the recent history.

Needless to say, if you were considering putting some money on Hughes today, you might want to fade or hedge instead. It’s not that we don’t believe in him. We do. But some cosmic forces are too powerful for any one man to overcome.