SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (March 9, 2008)-- In one of the biggest upsets in the recent history of the Visa San Francisco City Championship, 16-year-old Martin Trainer topped Bay Area stalwart and former champion (1999) Randy Haag 2-up to become the youngest title winner in history.
The first day of daylight saving time greeted Harding Park with sunshine and 70 degree weather for the finals, which saw Haag and Trainer trading birdies throughout, with only three holes halved, and ended at the 18th hole all square.
Haag got off to a fast start after the lunch break going birdie, par, birdie to put Trainer 3-down, but Trainer responded by winning the next four holes.
Haag got back to even the match on the 25th hole, but missed the green left on the par three 26th hole. Unable to get up and down, Trainer went 1-up with a two putt par-3. Both players reached the par five 27th hole, Haag just off the back edge and Trainer in the right fringe pin high. Haag's three-putt allowed Trainer to win with a birdie and take a 2-up lead into the final nine.
Haag was by no means finished, winning the next three holes as Trainer failed to par the 28th and 29th and lost the par-five 30th to Haag's birdie-4. The next two holes were halved with pars. Trainer broke the streak and birdied the 33rd from twelve feet to even the match once again. On the short, strategic 310 yard 34th hole, Haag's wedge settled three feet from the hole leaving a straight uphill putt for birdie. Trainer answered with his own wedge to 6 inches for his second straight birdie and the match was still all square.
"I was a little nervous, especially at the end, but I tried to keep it under control," said Trainer. "I knew I was nervous, but I'm not sure if anyone else did, sometimes I play better under pressure."
On the 35th Trainer went one up as Haag again missed the green right and failed to get up and down. On the long par four 36th hole that skirts along Lake Merced both players hit perfect drives to the center of the fairway. Haag, playing first, found the bunker at the front right of the green. Trainer's five iron landed softly on the front edge of the green and settled just on the collar pin high. Haag's bunker shot came up ten feet short and his putt missed mark leaving Trainer two putts from five feet for the victory.
Haag graciously conceded the putt and Trainer was the victor 2-up.
"I have never played with Randy" said Trainer. "But I knew he was a great player. But you just can't know how good he really is until you've played him. I learned a lot. He does more that just make great shots, he manufactures shots when he needs them, he's a great putter, and he finds more ways to get the ball in the hole than anyone I've ever played with."
As for Haag, who has been playing in the event for the past 30 years?
"I'll be back" he said. "I consider the City to be one of the most import and tournaments I play. Martin was a great kid to play with, great demeanor and a tremendous talent. I look forward to watching him develop over the coming years."
At age 16 becomes the youngest Men's Champion, replacing Ken Venturi who won at age 17.
In the women's championship, University of Colorado at Boulder-bound Emily Childs fought tooth and nail with Dorothy Schwartz. At the end of the morning round they were all square with neither player having built up more than a one-hole lead. The afternoon continued with much of the same, the lead exchanged several times. The breakthrough finally came on the 35th hold when Childs drained a 20 foot putt for birdie to go one up. The 36th hole was halved giving Childs the victory
In the senior division, Jim Knoll topped Frank Pieper 2-up.
Bryan Ungaretti won the open division's John Susko bracket while Chris Ingram won the Ken Venturi bracket, and Jon Levine took the Harvie Ward bracket. Ron Goordon won the Sandy Tatum bracket.
Sean Denny was the winner of the Tom Culligan Senior Open bracket..
In the women's open divisions, Linda Brown won the Juli Inkster bracket while Alexandra Wong took the Jan Ferraris bracket.
Thanks to tournament chairman Mike Miller for the story, as well as Kemper Sports and the San Francisco Parks and Recreation Department.