by Elizabeth Kricfalusi
, for amateurgolf.com
The sun beamed down on Harding Park for the quarterfinals of the San Francisco City Golf tournament today, which may partially explain why half the pairings in the Men’s, Men’s Senior’s, and Women’s Championships lasted all the way to the 18th hole or beyond.
21-year-old Michael Wilson of Monterey, a mass communications major at Cal, went 1-up against former two-time champion Jim Evans in a match Wilson described as a “dogfight.”
“He made an eagle putt on 9 and I made an eagle putt on top of him just to halve the hole,” said Wilson. “There were a lot of birdies going on out there.”
“He played better than I did,” said Evans. “I just didn’t hit the ball well today. And he made a lot of putts. That was the difference in the match, quite frankly. He just made so many putts.”
Evans went on to praise the younger members of this year’s field. “No primadonnas, no one’s got any attitudes, just a lot of respect for the game and for the tournament. I guess the colleges are turning out good kids and it’s just awesome.”
Wilson will play Bob Niger, who defeated Michael Miller 4 and 2, in next Saturday’s semifinals. Daniel Lim (5 and 4 against Jake Yount) and Will Johnson (4 and 3 against Trent Tessler) will round out the foursome.
In his second year participating in the Men’s Senior division, 58-year-old Jack Bieber holed a 12-footer on the 18th to also finish 1-up against Robert Rowland.
“I wanted to leave the chip below the hole,” he said. “Not quite 12 feet below the hole, but it was very nice.”
Bieber, a member of the Olympic Club with a current index of 2.1, praised his caddie Kyle Freeman for helping him win the match.
Freeman described Rowland’s shot of the day.
“He was behind the bunker, and there was a slope between him and the hole, not much green to work with, and it was downhill,” said Freeman. “I said, well, play one of those Tiger Woods flop shots, and he said ‘I don’t have that shot.’ So I said, ‘play whatever shot you got… let’s work some magic.’ And he played just a perfect shot that landed maybe two feet away.”
For the semifinals, Bieber will be paired against defending champion Earl Stewart, who took the match from David Carroll on the 19th hole. Mike Butler and Rob Thompson also advanced.
In the Women’s division, 16-year-old Christina Hirano made her 10-foot putt on the 18th to finish 1-up as well against 2003 champion Eva Monisteri. Hirano, who has played twice before in the City championship, said it was “very challenging” to play such an experienced player.
“I must say, it was not an easy match,” said Hirano, who aspires to turn pro eventually. “I knew she was very good and we both played really well, and I’d just love to play with her again. It was so much fun.”
Monisteri talked about the high-quality play of the younger women in the tournament. “They’re great players… I mean both Jennifer (Hirano) and Christina have played in this tournament before and they’re very good. Their short game is just unbelievable, and they hit it solidly, and they do everything right.”
Hirano will face Saana Rapakko in next week’s semis. Rapakko finished 4 and 3 against Joy Kim. They will be joined by Sally Krueger and Michelle Mitra.
Other Sunday highlights:
- Bob Niger used the term “scrappy” to describe his match against Michael Wilson, noting that there had been several shifts in momentum throughout the day. “I feel like I got away with one today, because usually you’re not going to play your worst round this far into the tournament and get away with it.”
The round seemed to turn his way at the 405-yard, par-4 13th, where he deemed his drive as his best shot of the tournament so far. “I haven’t hit that fairway the whole tournament and I hit a great drive there. Then I hit an 8-iron about eight or ten feet and made my birdie. He was about 3 feet for par, so he was going to make par, so that was a big hole for me. From there in, I started hitting it pretty good.”
- 58-year-old Rob Thompson, who was qualifying Medalist in 1976, was “tired and fighting a little bit of the flu”, but managed to finish 1-up against Larry Murchan. Next week’s semifinal match against Mike Butler may be the one to follow—Butler and Thompson were numbers 1 and 2 on the NCGA Senior Points List last year.
- Nine-time Women’s champion Sally Krueger continued her winning ways at the City, defeating Melissa Bagley 2-up. “She played beautifully,” said Krueger. “She is lovely to play and the golf course is in fabulous shape.” Krueger said she would prepare for the semifinals by keeping in close contact with “the best teacher in the world,” Rick Rhoads, who is the General Manager and Head Pro at the San Francisco Golf Club. “He’s absolutely the best,” she said.
For complete tournament results, including the Men’s Open flights and next week’s pairings, visit the San Francisco City Golf Championship Web site