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Mackenzie Hughes, J.J. Spaun share The Players Cup lead

WINNIPEG, Man. – Dundas, Ontario’s Mackenzie Hughes and Los Angeles, California’s J.J. Spaun reached 9-under through 36 holes on Friday at Pine Ridge Golf Club to share the 36-hole lead at The Players Cup, the fifth event on the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada’s 2015 schedule.

Hughes, the 2013 Mackenzie Tour Order of Merit winner, carded a 6-under 65 to match the earlier clubhouse lead set by Spaun (64), who currently sits no. 5 on the Order of Merit and in position to earn status on the Web.com Tour for 2016. Hughes and Spaun sat two shots clear of Order of Merit leader Drew Weaver of Atlanta, along with Kalmar, Sweden’s Robert Karlsson and Rockville, Maryland’s Danny Balin through 36 holes.

“It was a really good day from start to finish,” said Hughes, who finished tied for third here in 2013 on the way to his Order of Merit victory. “I feel pretty comfortable around here. I like the way the course sets up and the challenges it presents. You play a solid steady round and you’re going to be moving up, so I like that about this place and I’m looking to it this weekend.”

The 24-year old member of Golf Canada’s Young Pro Squad was one of just three players without a bogey on Friday, illustrating a stress-free round that was his lowest of the year so far on the Mackenzie Tour.

“I’m sure most guys hate bogeys, but I especially hate bogeys, so when you do that and get in your last few holes, it’s on your mind. I try not to think about it too much. I had a lot of good looks today and didn’t have too many stressful pars, so that was nice,” said Hughes.

Earlier, Spaun, who lost to Michael Letzig in a playoff at last week’s SIGA Dakota Dunes Open presented by SaskTel, posted the best round of the week with a 7-under 64 to set the pace.

“I kept the ball in front of me and made some putts and didn’t make very many mistakes, so it was a good day,” said Spaun, who made six birdies, an eagle and a bogey. “You really have to take advantage of the gettable par-5s and the easy par-4s, and fortunately I did that today and was able to capitalize on it.”

Spaun has improved with each finish on the Mackenzie Tour this season, lining up results of T16-T10-T8-T2 heading into this week in Winnipeg. The 24-year old former NCAA All-American at San Diego State said he’s seen his game improve in 2015 and is becoming more comfortable each week on Tour.

“I’ve been playing good for the past five months, but I just haven’t been playing in anything where it mattered. I knew my game was there so I think for me it’s just all about believing it and having no fear,” said Spaun.

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