Mike Roberts completes his ascension to the top
by Randy Pascal
Some might have suggested that it was inevitable that Mike Roberts would, at some point, claim the title at the Idylwylde Invitational. In
the eyes of the Kitchener-Waterloo native who had done everything but finish first in championship flight, the window of opportunity was far more
"I kind of felt that I needed to get this done before I turn forty," said Roberts, moments after posting an impressive 6 and 5 win over two-time
tournament champion and close personal friend Kyle Rank Sunday afternoon in Sudbury.
"I turn forty this fall, so I put a fair amount of work in over the past few weeks." There was certainly no disputing the impressive golf pedigree that
Roberts had compiled in six previous visits north.
Having qualified on four previous occasions as a top-16 contender, the representative of Whistle Bear Golf Club was a finalist (in 2015), a
semi-finalist (in 2016) and quarter-finalist (in 2017) over the course of the past three years.
Roberts noted that things came together nicely this year, as fortuitious circumstances over which he had no control aligned in his favour. "Knowing that
I avoided Kyle and/or Tristan (Renaud) on the other side of the bracket until this afternoon, I think, was helpful for me," he said.
"And conditions like this, a little windier, helps me manage my game, being able to flight things down. I got in a pretty good rhythm today." In fact,
while there were definitely some ups and downs as Roberts battled his way through five gruelling rounds of golf over a stretch of just over 48 hours, the
pinnacle might well have come in his final match.
"I struggled, admittedly, all week with my putting," he said. "I just got my speed back today at some point. For as little tournament play as I have now,
you're continually searching for something and you hope that you find it at the right time."
"Give me back a couple of putts this afternoon, but short of that, I really didn't put myself in trouble, I didn't really give Kyle any daylight. With
this kind of wind, this golf course is a tough test with the greens, in and around the greens."
And like so many others in the field would readily attest, there is always that mental aspect that needs to remain in check. "I kind of picked up on a
quote that Garrett (Rank - 2008 Idylwylde champion) said after he played the U.S. Open this year - "care more by caring less"," noted
"Treat it more like you're playing with your buddies. Don't take a ton of time to psycho-analyze every shot, as I have a tendency to do. I'm super happy
with how things turned out."
After shooting 74 on Friday to qualify for championship flight, Roberts knocked off Josh Hayes (3 and 2), Ryan Bastien (5 and 4) and
Ryan Willoughby (3 and 2) en route to a showdown with his southwestern Ontario golf buddy (Roberts and Rank are scheduled to team up at a pairs
event later this summer).
Rank, meanwhile, was two shots better on day one with a 72, before taking down Don Martone (2 and 1), Jay Jewett (3 and 2) and defending
champion Tristan Renaud (2 and 1) by lunch time on Sunday.
Rounding out flight champions are Ryan Hagger in 1st flight (1 up over Alain Robichaud), Justin Fluit (1 up over Emmett
Taillefer) in 2nd flight and Nillo Shonfeld (4 and 2 over Jim Christison in 3rd flight.
A shout-out also goes out to Johnny Heelan who recorded a hole in one on the 17th hole over the course of the weekend.
Following is a complete breakdown of championship flight play:
Round of Sixteen
Tristan Renaud over John Kusnierczyk (8 and 7)
Vince Palladino over Darren Edward (2 and 1)
Kyle Rank over Don Martone (2 and 1)
Jay Jewett over Dale Valade (2 and 1)
Ryan Willoughby over Nick Quesnel (6 and 4)
Frank Kucher over Matt Dumontelle (4 and 3)
Ryan Bastien over Mike Moraca (20 holes)
Mike Roberts over Josh Hayes (3 and 2)
Tristan Renaud vs Vince Palladino (3 and 2)
Kyle Rank vs Jay Jewett (3 and 2)
Ryan Willoughby vs Frank Kucher (1 up)
Mike Roberts vs Ryan Bastien (5 and 4)
Kyle Rank vs Tristan Renaud (2 up)
Mike Roberts vs Ryan Willoughby (3 and 2)