Seven years ago I was inspired to start this blog and cover the historic SF City, I never thought I would still be writing about this event or others. Over the past 7 years the SF City has continued its steady decline in media popularity, and now even qualifying scores are hard to find. The official website of the event, www.sfgolfchampionship.com has improved over the years, with scores sometimes making it onto the website the day of the event.
This years amazing weather in January made it clear that we would be hit with some difficult weather during the city, and did it ever come true. The qualifying two weeks ago was perhaps some of the worst weather I’ve ever played in anywhere in the world. Not only did it rain hard for 6 hours straight while we played, be we also had hit winds to make matters even worse. The greens were so saturated with water that on many occasions chipping on the greens was the only chance you’d have.
The weather conditions certainly played into the highest qualifying score in the history of the event, or at least what anyone can ever remember. I think I can remember one bad weather year when 154 was a playoff, this year a WHOPPING +19 over par 159 for 36 holes will playoff tomorrow morning at Presidio at 7:00 AM. There will be 12 players vying for 9 spots. Tomorrow the field of 64 will play match one of the SF City that this year will be contested over a record 5 weeks. I’m unsure as to the logic behind playing a qualifier 2 weeks prior to the commencement of the match play portion of the event. Because Harding Park is unavailable this year due to the replacement of all the greens, The Presidio took the tournament for the 2014 event.
I am actually very grateful to all those on the SF City Golf committee that dedicate their time to make this event as good as possible. The history if this event is second to none on a national basis, where some of the best matches in golf history occurred right here at Harding Park.
One of the biggest changes in the event is the number of great younger players that enter the event and make a huge impact on the championship. Historically high school players could not compete with the likes of Gary Vanier, John Susko, Frank Mazion and Aly Trompais. Now however these young guns could care less who you are and what you’ve won in the past. They just look at you walk slowly up the hills and know that coming down the stretch they will not tire. I once knew 90% of the players advancing into match play, and today its the reverse where I know maybe 10% of these young players.
These young guns cannot be underestimated, and I have first hand experience with a handful of these very good and accomplished players. Six years ago I played Martin Trainer who at the time was a mere 16 years old. After 21 holes I had a 5 up lead going into the 4th hole at Harding Park. That’s the hole where my legs started giving out resulting in many shots left that cost me 5 holes in a row. After trading blows on the back nine, we arrived at the 35th hole even for the day. Clearly one would think my experience in this event would be to my advantage, but after having walked 36 holes the day earlier in the semi-finals (The Sf City is the only match play event in the world that plays back to back 36 hole matches) I was exhausted and had little left in the tank. The result was a bogey, bogey finish to lose one down. At the time Martin was the youngest player to ever win the SF, which lasted one year when Carlos Briones in 2009 won the SF City at the age of 14. Since 2009 college standouts George Gandranata, Brandon Hagy (both from Cal) and Cody Blick won, followed by 16 year old and fellow Olympian Will Brueckner.