Story by Elizabeth Kricfalusi
, for amateurgolf.com
Defending Senior’s champion Earl Stewart missed his putt by mere inches on Harding Park’s 18th green to force a playoff against Jack Bieber at Saturday’s San Francisco City Golf Championship semifinals round. However, Bieber’s bogey on the 19th hole paved the way for Stewart to take his fourth straight 1-up win in the match-play tournament.
“Every match I’ve played, I’ve gone to the 18th or the 19th hole,” said Stewart, a retired firefighter with the San Francisco Fire Department. “So I feel very fortunate to be in this position right now, because every match I’ve had is tough. There are no ‘gimmes’ out there.”
Stewart said he felt particularly fortunate to have won today’s match because he played poorly on the back nine. At one point, Stewart found himself 3-up with five holes to play, but “I was giving them away,” he said. “I was fading. I just couldn’t keep the pressure on him and I bogeyed three or four holes in a row back there and let him back in the match.”
Stewart will face off against Rob Thompson, who also won on the 19th hole against Mike Butler, in Sunday’s finals match. Thompson is currently the leader on the NCGA’s 2005 Senior Points list (as well as the amateurgolf.com list); Stewart is in third place.
In the Men’s championship, which comprised 36 holes, Daniel Lim finished 1-up against Will Johnson. On Sunday, Lim will play Michael Wilson, who defeated Bob Niger 2-up.
The Women’s #1 seed and defending champion, Sally Krueger, will challenge #2 seed, 16-year-old Christina Hirano, after a 6 and 4 win against Michelle Mitra. Hirano defeated Saana Rapakko 5 and 3.
The Open division’s flights played their semifinals at Harding Park today as well, after having played their previous matches at Lincoln Park. Harding's Director of Golf George Price noted that there are many challenges in accommodating both the tournament and the daily guests.
“There are a lot of moving parts on the semifinal and final weekend of the San Francisco City, and there’s a lot of coordination that has to be done,” said Price, adding that today’s rounds had gone very smoothly. “The morning matches got done with the championship and everybody’s right on schedule, on time, and there’s been some exciting golf.”
For Sunday’s finals matches, the Men’s and Women’s divisions will play 36 holes; the Senior’s and Open’s matches will remain 18 holes. For complete tournament results, visit the San Francisco City Golf Championship Web site