Andy Gustin beat Rich Starsiak on the first playoff hole to win the 2021 Men’s Club Championship. Tim McCullough ran away with the Net, after in his words, “playing like *$%# for the last 6 weeks.”
Going into the final round there were probably 10 players with a realistic chance at the title. After the front nine, the number of contenders had shrunk to only 2. First round leader Tom Mills was cool, calm, and collected going into Saturday and started with 2 pars, but played the stretch of holes from 6 to 12 in 11 over par which ended his chances. Billy Bacchiocchi who was in second place after the first round, started bogey, double, double before making a birdie on 4 but struggled to a 39 on the front. Former champion Reed Bacchiocchi started the day 4 strokes back, but showed up about as much as defending champion Walter Hartley, who was away at a wedding. Craig Donnelly, who rounded out the marquee group, also shot a 39 on the front.
Only Starsiak and Gustin were able to negotiate the front nine, putting themselves 6 strokes ahead of the closest competition. Rich was totally businesslike, opening the front nine with 5 straight pars, a bogey on 6 and a birdie on 9 to play the front in even par and a maintain a one shot lead. Coming from 5 strokes back, Gus was a hurricane on the front, making birdie on 1, lipping out for birdie on 2, and making another birdie on 5 to eventually finish the front nine in 1 under.
After those fireworks, it looked like no one wanted to win for a bit. Starsiak bogeyed 10 to make the match even, and made another bogey on 11, while Gus doubled 11 and bogeyed 12 to fall 2 behind. Rich bogeyed 13, Gus bogeyed 14 and they both bogeyed 15, leaving Rich with a 2 stroke lead on the 16th tee. Gus birdied 16 while Rich bogeyed evening the match briefly before Gus made an 8 footer for double on 17 that unknowingly had him 2 back on the 18th tee. Little did he know that Rich had started his day on 18 with a double bogey, so a par for Gus would force a playoff. Gus chunked his approach shot from 130 yards out, forcing him to make a beautiful up and down from 55 yards out to get into the playoff.
Unfortunately, Rich was due in Baltimore and unaware that his total of 135 was a good score so he took to the hot highway and was in Norwell before it was determined he was in a playoff. While Rich rushed back to the course, it was chaos at the course with an outing was teeing off at 1:00, and the restless gallery gathered around the first tee waiting. Rich won the coin flip and promptly overcooked his drive which rolled into the bog on the left. Gus popped his drive up leaving himself 170 yards in, and hit his approach just short and slightly left of the pin. Rich took a drop and hit a beautiful shot that flew over the flag and settled 25′ behind the pin. Gus chipped to within 5 feet, but after Rich missed his putt, he was able to can the slider for the par and the win. Pandemonium ensued and Reed Bacchiocchi (our best available former champion) quickly performed the champion’s jacket ceremony on the first green.
Thank you to everyone who played, another great tournament and fun for all!