Hosting the 72nd edition of their storied Men's Invitational Tournament, the folks at the Idylwylde Golf & Country Club were in for a little history to be made this weekend.
Surprisingly, perhaps, that wasn't provided via the brother v brother showdown in the championship flight final, with North Bay siblings Bill and Dave Morland having turned that trick back in 1957.
Nope, the real shocker came on Friday night, when long-time event organizer Robbie Coe qualified for the elite of the match play showdowns, out-dueling no less than eight other competitors on the first playoff hole and advancing to championship flight play for the first time in his 33 years of competing at the Sudbury summer tradition.
Oh, and yes, over the course of the weekend, Garrett and Kyle Rank also put on quite the show for the fans on hand, displaying the type of shot making ability that justifies the status of arguably Canada's top amateur golfer for the 2019 Idylwylde champion.
Garrett Rank downed Kyle Rank, also a two-time champ, 4 and 3 on Sunday, completing an absolutely methodical dismantling of the field that began with a tournament best score of 69 in the single round shootout on day one of the competition.
Three rounds later, the one time member of Golf Canada's national amateur team, who now spends his winters officiating NHL hockey, was readying to take on his older brother after disposing of Joel Clarke, Vince Palladino and Sam Barber of North Bay, with none of those matches extended beyond the 14th hole.
“It's probably the first time I've ever played him in an actual match play tournament,” admitted Kyle, who captured the Invitational in both 2014 and 2016, and was a runner-up to Mike Roberts one year ago. “I pretty much had to play perfect, to compete with him, which is do-able, but hard, especially after playing 72 holes. He played well and I missed some putts I should have made.”
"My goal here, every year, is to come here and try and win," added Kyle. "Obviously, when I saw that my brother was coming, I knew that this probably was not a real possibility, let's be honest. I was glad I was on the bottom half of the draw, away from him."
As for Garrett, who won the crown back in 2008 and last attended the tournament in either 2009 or 2010, he very humbly acknowledged the reverence the remainder of the field holds in his regard, building this impressive reputation that was only cemented in 2018, when Rank earned a berth in the U.S. Open.
“It might be a bit unfair,” he suggested candidly. “I play golf almost every day and a lot of these guys are here playing for fun, not that I don't play for fun. But I knew with my abilities, if I played solid, I would have a chance to win.”
Truth be told, Garrett Rank absolutely understands how the other half lives, when it comes to the Idylwylde Invitational. “Kyle's a really well-rounded family man, and a hell of a golfer,” said Garrett. “I'm really proud of him. This was pretty cool, because I kind of figured I had everything to lose out there, with supper table bragging rights on the line.”
The Rank tête a tête almost did not happen, as Kyle needed two playoff holes to eliminate 2018 champion Mike Roberts in semi-final play. “I was doing my part to try and prevent a domestic dispute,” said Roberts with a laugh, a tournament regular who typically travels to Sudbury from his home in the Kitchener-Waterloo area with one, if not both of the Rank brothers, his long-time friends.
As such, he could provide this very accurate handicapping of the final, moments before the two Elmira natives teed off around 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. “Kyle is one of the few players in the field who won't be fazed by Garrett's length,” said Roberts. “He's got that going for him. But it will be hard.”
“He's playing against a world class talent, and Kyle will be the first to tell you that he is like most of us, a weekend warrior.”
Just 25 years old but now a couple of years removed from his NCAA playing days with the Sacred Heart University Pioneers in Fairfield (Connecticut), North Bay native Sam Barber now gladly accepts the mantle of weekend warrior. Working full-time and playing a little golf on the side leaves one with little option.
Working his way to the final four, taking to the course on a Sunday when all of the local contenders had been sent packing, is pretty much as good as it gets. “Reaching the semi-finals in a tournament like this is a nice achievement for me, given the golfers that are on hand,” said Barber, a graduate of West Ferris Secondary School in North Bay.
Playing the event for the third time, the runner-up at the North Bay Men's Invitational just a few weeks back noted that a little experience does come in handy at a tournament that is truly unlike any other in the country. “The qualifying round is always tough,” he said. “You know the scores are going to be good to get you into championship flight.”
“I think in the past, when I've played here before, I've kind of pressed and got to thinking about a number that I had to shoot, instead of just playing the course. I kind of let the course come to me this time, a little bit more, and that helped me.”
As for Coe, who was easily the good news story of opening round, the 2019 tournament will be one for the memory banks. “I birdied 17 and had to get up and down from forty yards out on 18, but I was pretty sure 75 was going to be the number (to get to the playoff),” suggested the ultra friendly organizer who has missed championship flight cut by just a single stroke on four previous occasions.
This time around, with nine golfers looking to secure the final five spots up for grabs, Coe would lead the way. “Everybody is hitting seven irons, maybe six irons,” said Coe of his tee shot on #10, the very first playoff hole. “My caddie was Brian Savage, he asked me if I wanted my six iron, and I asked for my four iron.”
As for any visions of a match-up with either of the Ranks at some point in the quarter finals or beyond, Coe was not about to kid himself. “I'm swinging way over my weight in championship flight,” he said. “It's a different mindset for sure, but for me, it was all about Friday night.”
And with Garrett Rank at or near his best the rest of the weekend, Coe may not have been the only one feeling that way.
Following are an assortment of other interesting scoring tidbits from the 72nd Idylwylde Invitational:Championship Flight Qualifiers
1 - Garrett Rank - 69
2 - Matt Bortolotto - 71
3 - Todd Crowder - 72
4 - Sam Barber - 72
5 - Darryl Moxam - 73
6 - Kyle Rank - 73
7 - Ryan Willoughby - 74
8 - Dave Zanier - 74
9 - Vince Palladino - 74
10 - Jay Quesnel - 74
11 - Justin Fluitt - 74
Qualified via playoff
12 - Robbie Coe - 75
13 - Brad Greenside - 75
14 - Don Martone - 75
15 - Mike Roberts - 75
16 - Joel Clarke - 75
Eliminated via playoff
17 - Scott Whalen - 75
18 - Niilo Schonfeld - 75
19 - Ward Kyle - 75
20 - Jeff Baker - 75
Championship Flight - Round by Round
Round of Sixteen
Garrett Rank over Joel Clarke - 6 & 4
Vince Palladino over Dave Zanier - 1 up
Sam Barber over Brad Greenside - 5 & 4
Darryl Moxam over Robbie Coe - 6 & 5
Mike Roberts over Matt Bortolotto - 4 & 3
Ryan Willoughby over Jay Quesnel - 5 & 4
Don Martone over Todd Crowder - 2 & 1
Kyle Rank over Justin Fluitt - 4 & 3
Garrett Rank over Vince Palladino - 7 & 5
Sam Barber over Darryl Moxam - 3 & 2
Mike Roberts over Ryan Willoughby - 1 up
Kyle Rank over Don Martone - 1 up
Garrett Rank over Sam Barber - 5 & 4
Kyle Rank over Mike Roberts - 20 holes