There was a time when golf was pretty much everything Robert Mustard would think about. The Brockville, Ontario native grew up immersed in the game. It led him to plenty of golf course success. The odd part it is, now that the game is not as big of a focus, the victories seem to be even sweeter.
On Sunday the 32 year-old teacher leaned on a hot putter to capture the 2018 Flagstick Open Amateur Championship presented by TaylorMade Golf Canada and adidas Golf Canada, in a one-hole playoff with Noah Steele.
Mustard, a graduate of Ottawa University where he played varsity golf, headed into the final round of the tournament at eQuinelle Golf Club in Kemptville, Ontario at a one-stroke deficit to 20 year-old Steele, the two-time defending champion. Steele’s lead did not last long, however, as the Sam Houston State student-golfer made a bogey on the very first hole of the day. That followed a lengthy birdie by Mustard from off the green, a sign of things to come as they headed to the second tee with the older player now in front.
The pair battled back and forth all day long, ultimately seeing Steele regain a share of the lead, a situation that held all the way to the final hole of regulation. There, Mustard was left with a five-foot putt for victory but for the first time all day it seemed, his stroke failed him, creating a playoff with Steele at a total 36-hole score of -5.
As the duo returned to the 18th hole, a par five, there were once again eye-to-eye. Steele flinched with a wet second shot approach but still had a chance for a par putt. The opportunity would not matter though as Mustard sealed the win in the fashion you would expect, sinking a 20 foot, putter-raised-in-the-air, birdie that capped the event with a large cheer from the assembled crowd.
An elated Mustard, with a big smile on his face, could not have been more pleased with how he finished.
“It was great,” he told Flagstick.com. “I got off to a quick start against him (Noah Steele). The biggest lead was two shots. I was never down to him after the first hole. On the first hole I birdied and he made bogey and then worst we got was even but there was never more than one or two shots in difference between each other so it was a really good match, a really tight match. He hit a couple bad chips that hurt him. He’s a great ball striker; he never missed off the tee.”
Several years ago Mustard won another Flagstick Golf Magazine sponsored event,the Smuggler’s Shootout, in a playoff as well, but he was even more pleased with this triumph.
“Really good,” Mustard said of the win that he secured with his parents in the crowd (it also happened to be his mother’s birthday). “I didn’t hit it well off the tee well at all but luckily on this course you can get away with missing a few tee shots and my short game was really good. My putter was really good except for that short putt I missed for the win on 18 (in regulation) but other than that, it was a redemption on the playoff hole, making the 20 footer.”
The fine play came as a bit of a surprise for Mustard who is currently on paternity leave, taking care of the youngest of his two sons. The tournament rounds were only his 5th and 6th of the year. Unlike in his youth, his priority is not golf now, but it does not seem to be keeping him from the winner’s circle.
“Yeah, two kids and not even playing anywhere this year. I’m not even a member; I’m off with my son. Maybe it’s just easier to play golf this way, not playing much golf and having a family. You stress about home life not about the golf course anymore. Maybe that’s the secret.”
As a consolation, Steele, a member at Cataraqui Golf & Country Club in Kingston, earned the top spot in A division while Logan Henry, a member of the host club, prevailed in B Flight with scores of 76 and 76.
The 2019 Flagstick Open Amateur Championship presented by TaylorMade Golf Canada and adidas Golf Canada is scheduled to return to the eQuinelle Golf Club. It will once again be played on the May long weekend.
Tournament Director Jeff Bauder, was pleased with the weekend of activities. “We had to deal with some rain on day one but the sun showed up late on Sunday. The field was exceptional this year and the course was in exceptional shape. We appreciate the continued support of TaylorMade and adidas Golf and look forward to hosting this event for years to come.”