Opportunity Awaits

Denver native Mark Hubbard, seeking his first PGA Tour win, in contention to make it come at a major championship

By Gary Baines – 5/17/2024

Given what happened last year at the U.S. Open — and at the 2023 Wells Fargo Championship and the 2024 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am — perhaps Mark Hubbard wouldn’t have been the first answer golf fans would have come up with if asked which Denver native would be in contention for the title after two days of the PGA Championship. 

But it is indeed Hubbard — and not Wyndham Clark, who missed the cut on Friday — who’s on the leaderboard at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky. 

The Colorado Academy graduate, who grew up playing Pinehurst Country Club in south Denver, birdied his final hole on Friday and remains in the top five after two days. His rounds of 65-68 leave him at 9 under par and three strokes behind leader Xander Schauffele. During the middle of his round, Hubbard shared the lead for a brief stretch. 

Given his position, Hubbard could check off multiple items on his golf to-do list with a strong weekend, most notably both his first PGA Tour victory and first major title. (His best PGA Tour showing to date is a runner-up in the 2019 Houston Open.)

But even if he falls short of those lofty goals, Hubbard is in very good shape to record his best finish in a major championship. This is just his fourth start in a major, with showings of 51st (2020) and 75th (2023) in the PGA Championship and a missed cut in the 2020 U.S. Open.

“It’s great” to be in the hunt, Hubbard said on Friday. “Obviously you want to be in contention at majors and feel the buzz and the energy. It’s a lot of fun. Going into the week, I felt like this was the first time my game was in a position where I felt like I could do that, whereas before I just showed up and have been kind of happy to be there. And I think that showed just from a mental standpoint and confidence standpoint. 

“I also think this is a good major course for me. There’s so many that aren’t. Oak Hill last year was pretty tough if you don’t fly it 320. So going into the week both how I was feeling but also how the course set up just kind of felt like I had more of a chance this year.”

Through two rounds at Valhalla, Hubbard has racked up 13 birdies while making four birdies. He’s been especially impressive with the flatstick, ranking fourth in the field in strokes gained putting through two days. He’s averaged 105 feet of putts made in rounds 1 and 2.

“My putter really showed up and kind of kept me in there” on Friday, he said.

Hubbard, the 2007 CGA Junior Player of the Year, hasn’t missed a cut in 14 PGA Tour starts this season and owns two top-4 finishes. He placed fourth — behind champion Clark, his fellow Denver native, at Pebble Beach and third in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans team event. Hubbard is currently ranked No. 81 in the world.

“I’m kind of waiting for that week where it all comes together,” the soon-to-be 35-year-old said. “But I think that speaks to the work I’ve done with my coach and just getting my whole game a little more consistent. I feel like mentally I’ve been pretty good, too. So it’s just been a solid year and like I said, hopefully I can get a tournament where it all comes together.”

What would a victory at the PGA Championship mean, Hubbard was asked.

“If I win an opposite-field event it’s great, let alone a major,” he said. “At the end of the day though, my life is awesome. I’ve got a great family and two great kids.”

As for Clark, scores of 71-75 resulted in the reigning U.S. Open champ missing his second cut in the two major championships so far in 2024.

For all the results from the PGA Championship, CLICK HERE.

About the Writer: Gary Baines has covered golf in Colorado continuously since 1983. He was a sports writer at the Daily Camera newspaper in Boulder, then the sports editor there, and has written regularly for since 2009. The University of Colorado Evans Scholar alum was inducted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in 2022. He owns and operates