The young and not so young prepare for championship flight play
by Randy Pascal
The gods of golf were looking favourably upon the organizers of the 70th Annual Idylwylde Invitational on Friday.
Not only were the 192 golfers on hand treated to absolutely ideal conditions throughout the day, but what looked to be a cumbersome and potentially
lengthy playoff round wrapped up in all of just one hole.
Youth was served, first and foremost, as recently crowned Ontario Junior champion Tristan Renaud and Laurentian University golf team MVP
Nick Quesnel joined Humber Hawks junior Connor Watt, all at 70, the low score on the day.
Lockerby Composite grade 11 student Emmett Taillefer was just two strokes back at 72, with several familiar names included in the quintet
of players at 73: Mike Roberts, Ward Kyle, Ryan Willoughby, Marc Lefebvre, John Kusnierczyk.
With Vince Palladino and Darren Edward both at 74, that would mean that five of the seven golfers bunched at 75 would make their way
through to championship flight. Thankfully, the drama was relatively short-lived.
Marshall Graper, Jay Jewett, Todd Crowder and Ryan Hagger all made par, teeing off on number ten, with Jim Christison also safely in
with a bogey. Former University of Toronto Blues' golfer Niilo Schonfeld found trouble right off the tee, sending his drive clear across the
fairway and plunking his second shot in the water.
Luke McLean took the most aggressive approach, clearing the green, but struggled with his short game on the playoff hole and was eliminated with
a double bogey. In the end, it sets up a very intriguing initial set of eight matches on Saturday morning, including Quesnel against Jewett in a battle of
extremely legitimate contenders.
"Anybody that's ever played a match play tournament knows that match play is a different game," said Quesnel. "You've got to really not beat yourself out
there and take it one hole at a time. It's fun - just get up there and see who is playing hot."
Sitting at five under through twelve holes on Friday, Quesnel was the hottest golfer on the course, before giving a few strokes back coming home. "It
would have been nice to follow it in, but you've got shots out there. It's going to happen once in a while."
There was little doubt the sentimental favourite in the playoff hole was none other than Todd Crowder, who cracked the championship flight for a third
consecutive year, all while taking a somewhat unconventional approach with his game.
"There is no mindset, actually, it's all about having fun," he said. "Honest to God, I put no pressure on myself, I have no expectations. If it happens,
it happens. As a 50 year old now, it's all about seeing my friends, having fun, playing some golf."
In fact, Crowder very much enjoys the influx of young talent that is making it tougher and tougher, every passing year, for he and those of his age
range to continue to make their way into the top sixteen.
"We have Tristan Renaud and Ward Kyle and a bunch of others," said Crowder. "Those kids are unbelievable golfers. They're very fortunate to have the
opportunity to play here and practice and do what they do. And they're among the top golfers in the province."
"We're all very proud to see young guys like that doing well." While both Renaud and Kyle are now known quantities, that's likely not so much the case
for Emmett Taillefer, tapping into a little family help in getting through his round of 72.
"It was a good day today, it was really good," said the 16 year-old talent. "It was nice to have my brother (Oliver) on my bag, being there for me. That was
probably the biggest thing for me today, just to have him there with me."
Still, Taillefer had to make good on the course, with the added bonus coming from a most unexpected source. "The best part of my game today was my
chipping, for sure, and that's not like me," he said. "I don't know where that came from, I'm not normally the best chipper. It seemed like every single
chip was close to the hole."
Though many will point to the value of experience when it comes to navigating their way around the trickiness of the Idylwylde, Taillefer maintained a
very straight-forward strategy in his first appearance at the event.
"My strategy today was simply to make as many pars as I can, and don't make any high numbers," he said. "My biggest fault when I golf is that I always
seem to take at least one big number, a nine or a ten. Today, I didn't want to do that."
Such is the depth of the local young talent, that there were many others chomping on the heels of Taillefer, Quesnel, Kyle, Renaud and company. Grade
ten Lo-Ellen Park Secondary student Josh Hayes missed the playoff hole by just two strokes, carding a 77.
"I was alright with it," said Hayes. "I left a couple of shots out there, but that happens. It's golf." Also making his inaugural appearance at the
prestigious Sudbury summer tradition, Hayes did manage to qualify for match play on Saturday, with the top few flights joining the championship crew with
"I like match play," said Hayes. "It's more fun, because you're playing against someone, going back and forth with that one person." Following is a
complete listing of the first round championship flight matches, with the finals set for Sunday afternoon:
Tristan Renaud vs Jim Christison
Ward Kyle vs Marc Lefebvre
Emmett Taillefer vs Ryan Hagger
Ryan Willoughby vs Marshall Graper
Connor Watt vs Todd Crowder
Mike Roberts vs Darren Edward
Nick Quesnel vs Jay Jewett
John Kusnierczyk vs Vince Palladino