OTTAWA - Nearly 9,900 golfers signed up to try to secure one of 156 spots in the 2013 U.S. Open.
As if those odds aren't bad enough, 77 of the openings in the major are awarded to the Tiger Woods' and Phil Mickelson's of the world - top pros as well as a handful of amateurs guaranteed a spot at the Merion Golf Club near Philadelphia next week.
Then, there are guys like Mackenzie Hughes, a rookie pro without tour status from the Hamilton area. Like thousands of others, he was sent to one of 111 local qualifiers (players with even modest pro resumes skip this stage) just to try to earn the right to play in one of 11 final qualifying events.
Little did Hughes know that May 6 in Spartanburg, S.C., was going to be the start of an absolutely wild journey.