by Elizabeth Kricfalusi
, for amateurgolf.com
Three tough championship matches played out Sunday at the San Francisco City Golf tournament, but the most dramatic finish came in the Women’s division, which saw defending champion Sally Krueger add a tenth title to her record as she defeated 16-year-old Christina Hirano on the 38th hole.
“I feel very lucky because Christina is a fabulous young player,” said Krueger. “And in many ways she played better than I was. I just happened to be luckier today, but she’s going to win lots of great events in the future.”
Hirano, who won the Medalist title in the qualifiers, was down by 3 after the 10th hole of the second round of 18. She then went par-par-birdie to bring the match all square by the 13th, where the score stayed until the final hole.
Both players nailed their drives down the fairway on Harding Park’s par-4, 360-yard second hole. Hirano’s second shot landed to the right of the green and Krueger followed with a perfect 9-iron from 119 yards, landing about six feet from the hole. Hirano’s third landed on the front edge and her putt came up a little short, leaving Krueger with an easy 2-putt to win. Krueger only needed one, however, as her first putt dropped straight in.
Hirano said that it was an honor to play with Krueger. “She’s a great player and it was a really tough match and I’m just happy I was playing with her.”
Hirano had an opportunity to win the match on the 18th hole but, just before her putt, a rules official called out that she had replaced her ball in front of her marker and insisted that she move it back. Hirano ended up missing the putt a few inches to the left of the hole. Although the comment was clearly unpopular with many of the spectators in the gallery, Hirano didn't blame it for the miss. “I tried not to think about it. I kind of read the putt wrong too, and I pulled it,” she said.
In the Men’s championship round, 21-year-old Michael Wilson defeated 18-year-old Daniel Lim, finishing 3 and 2. This was both players’ first year participating in the SF City tournament.
Wilson started the day going 1-up on the first hole and never went down through both rounds. At one point, he reached 5- up, but Lim started rallying on the 8th hole of the second 18, bringing Wilson’s lead down to 2-up on the 12th, where they stayed until the par 4, 405-yard 15th hole. Wilson made his par with a perfect 15-foot putt from the edge of the green to go dormie. On the next hole, he pulled his tee shot to land in the left rough and then found the right greenside bunker on his second shot, but managed a solid up-and-down to halve the hole with Lim and win the title.
“I played really well at the start. I was under in the morning round, but I faltered a bit, and he wasn’t able to capitalize,” said Wilson, a redshirt junior at Cal. “But then, in the afternoon, I wasn’t making putts and he was, and it got me a little nervous. You know, other guys get momentum and gain confidence, and I was just looking for a putt to drop, and I finally got one to drop on 15… I saw his putt, he had the exact same line coming the other way and it broke a little more than he thought. So mine kind of snapped in, it just kept on breaking into the center.”
Lim, who made it to match play in last year’s U.S. Junior tournament, said he wasn’t too pleased with the way he played today’s round. “I know I could have played a lot better, but there’s always next year and years after that,” he said. “I made way too many bogeys in general. All the rounds I’ve played in match play have been 1-under or 2-under, and then today I played 3-over and 1-over, or something like that. I was a little off-tempo, and I wasn’t hitting the ball as well.”
Wilson’s father, Terry, came up from Monterey to caddie for his son and said he was very proud of Michael’s achievement. “It was pretty exciting to be able to carry the bag for him and watch,” he said. He also praised Lim’s performance. “It was quite a duel…[Daniel] was capable of putting the ball close to the hole on every iron shot and you expect that he’s going to drop the putts. So it’s who made the putts and who didn’t make the putts. His shotmaking is exceptional."
In the Senior Men’s championship, the current NCGA and amateurgolf.com’s Senior points leader Robert Thompson and last year’s City champion Earl Stewart traded leads all day.
Thompson, who was 1-up going into the 18th hole, hit his drive into the left rough, and Stewart followed by hitting his into the right rough, just left of the fairway bunker. Thompson’s second shot landed right of the green on the fringe. Stewart’s next shot got him in trouble, landing far left in the hazard. His third shot again landed in the right rough, but he made a phenomenal chip, stopping just two inches past the hole. Thompson answered with an amazing chip of his own, dropping straight into the hole to give him the championship title.
“I was just trying to cozy it up there where I could 2-putt,” said Thompson, laughing, “and it went in.”
Thompson, who finished 1-over-par for the day, referred to the round as a “grind”, saying “it could have gone either way for both of us. We both hit the ball pretty good, but neither one of us putted exceptionally well. It was just teeter-tottering back and forth and it tipped my way at the end.”
Stewart described his second shot that went awry. “I knew I needed a 3 and I tried to hit a shot that I really don’t have. I had a little side-hill lie there and I tried to hit a little punch shot and I just caught it fat…It was a bad decision, hitting what I tried to hit in there. I had an 8-iron, and it was an 8-iron shot, but I should have choked down a little bit on it and hit it more. I just put a bad swing on it.”
Stewart noted that Thompson drove beautifully throughout the match. “Robbie hit every fairway, his driver was absolutely superb, he did not hit it in any trouble. The only trouble he made was a couple of par-3s he hit it into the bunkers. But he drove it in the fairway, and when you drive it in the fairway here, you’ve got a pretty good chance of scoring. That was his game today, his driver.”
This year’s City championship saw all types of weather from driving rain during the qualifying rounds to Saturday’s foggy semifinals to gorgeous sunshine today. “I kind of like that it’s been the whole gamut,” said Judith Powell, Tournament Director. “It’s what it’s all about…it’s playing in all different kinds of conditions.” Powell thanked many people during her remarks at the presentation ceremony, making special mention of her Assistant Tournament Director, Edrick Pascual, whom she credited with keeping the tournament running smoothly and getting information out to everyone in a timely fashion.
The winners of the Open division flights were:
- Flight 1 (Susko): Brendan Costello, 1-up vs. Philip Havlicek
- Flight 2 (Venturi): Todd Hurst, 5 and 3 vs. Ian McCray
- Flight 3 (Ward): Yosuke Ariga, 4 and 3 vs. Paul Mooney
- Flight 4 (Tatum): Michael Parnow, 4 and 3 vs. John Gomez
- Flight 5 (Culligan): Chris Snyder, 1-up vs. Robert Hoffer
- Flight 6 (Roos): Dennis Yen, 1-up vs. Ken Baki
For complete tournament results, visit the San Francisco City Golf Championship Web site