THE fourth round of The Players Cup was a land of opportunity.
Only one player, Carlos Sainz Jr., walked off with the trophy but easily a half-dozen others had their chance on Sunday's back nine at Pine Ridge.
The man with the most regret will be runnerup Nathan Tyler. The Tucson, Ariz., native took a two-shot lead into the final round, did little to seize the day early and still with the lead at the 11th tee, made a blunder that opened the door for a whole lot of action.
Tyler's double-bogey six there was a difference, given that he finished a single shot behind Sainz when the smoke cleared. It was worth $16,200.
"I didn't really watch (leaderboards) too much until right after 12," Tyler said. " I looked at it just to see what I had done to myself. I was trying not to pay too much attention but at that point I needed to take a look."
He eventually shot 71 on Sunday to finish one shot short at 16-under-par, his best result of the season.
"I'm happy with what I did," Tyler said. "I played well these two days besides that one hole. I just didn't get anything out of it.
"I'm glad I stayed in it. Years past, I could have got irritated and dropped off the planet, and I kept fighting. That's worth more than anything."
Also finding worth in Sunday's supporting role was Canadian rookie pro Mackenzie Hughes, who, you may recall, captured the 2011 Canadian Amateur at Niakwa.
The Dundas, Ont., native played in the final pairing, starting the day two shots out. He finished three back of Sainz in a tie for third with fellow Canuck Kent Eger. Both earned $8,700.
"I stayed in it right to the end," Hughes said. "On 17 tee I was right in the golf tournament. If you'd have told me that at the beginning of the week, I'd have been pretty happy."
It was Hughes' first made cut in four events this season.
"It was all learning," he said. "I felt comfortable on the back nine and I was really fired up to be in contention. That's what you want to feel in the back nine, you want to feel those nerves because you're in contention.
"It's disappointing because I still want to be a champion. I definitely gave it a run, gave it a chance, but hats off to Carlos."
Hughes, 22, will play this week's RBC Canadian Open, previously granted an exemption by Golf Canada.
"This is a really big stepping stone for me because I've had a bit of trouble out here the first few events," he said. "It wasn't that my game was far off, because I was missing (cuts) by one. Just one shot here or there so it's really gratifying to see it come through."
Also going to this week's Open is Wil Collins, the No. 2 man on the PGA Tour Canada money chart. He finished tied for fifth at Pine Ridge, four back of the winner.
Collins shot 67 on the final day, playing the final seven holes in five-under.
He said he's been bordering on unhappy with his golf even though he's banked plenty this season.
"I just wanted to go home and feel all right," he said about Sunday's final round. "I told myself this week that I would take my focus off RBC spots, that I just wanted to live with myself. And it obviously feels great to make a few putts coming in.
"I'll just try to take this momentum and this mindset (to the Open)."