By Matt Foley, exclusive for amateurgolf.com
SAN FRANCISCO, CA (February 25, 2006) – “Steady as she goes” was the saying for many competitors as the SF City Championship began its second weekend of match play. Chilly but clear weather at Harding Park greeted the final 16 golfers in this year’s event. And while the first 3 foursomes did not make it to all 18 holes, the final foursome of the afternoon saw some of the best drama of the tournament.
The day saw the magic end for some crowd favorites, including youngster Martin Trainer, but it saw 4 of the top 5 seeds heading into match play advance to the Round of 8. The weather report is forecasting bitter weather to hit San Francisco on Sunday morning, as the competitors try to make it to the semi-finals next weekend when the matches go to 36 holes.
Bramlett / Trainer
Joseph Bramlett advanced to the Elite 8 with a 5&3 victory over 14 year old prodigy Martin Trainer. The magical run for Trainer ended today, but he made his mark on the tournament, and assured himself that his name will be on the minds of bay area amateur golf fans for the next several years. Trainer ran into bad breaks all morning, and Bramlett’s steady play never gave Trainer an opportunity to get back into the match. Bramlett went 4 up after the 14th hole when Trainer conceded, and sealed the match on the par 4 15th. Bramlett, the #1 seed entering match play competition, advances to face Will Johnson in the first foursome on Sunday.
Travis / Johnson
Will Johnson survived to play another day with a 2&1 victory over another youngster, Taylor Travis. Johnson went to 12 1up, and was able to hold on to his advantage the rest of the way. Johnson will tee off in the first group Sunday against #1 seed Joseph Bramlett.
Foley / Storer
Matt Foley is nothing if not consistent, and he is not complaining. Foley cruised to his third straight 4&3 victory, today over #13 seed Kory Storer. Foley started the back nine with a win on the par 5 10th, sending him 4 up at the time. Storer, however, would battle back to take the next two holes, including a chip in eagle on the par 5 12th hole to get the match within 2. However, Foley regained control of the match on the 13th hole. Storer staved off elimination with a fantastic par save on #14. After hitting a tree with his tee shot, his approach landed him within 2 feet of the cup. Foley conceded the putt, and then got up and down from just off the green to halve what appeared to be his hole to win. Foley closed out the match on the 15th hole, and will see tomorrow if he will need to play any of Harding’s final 3 holes.
Haag / Donnelly
Randy Haag battled to a 2&1 win over Michael Donnelly in a hard fought match throughout. The match was all square through 13 holes before Haag was able to hang on down the stretch. Haag rode his unorthodox putting style to a win that will see him face off against the consistent Matt Foley in the 7:30 foursome on Sunday.
Reinsberg / Beck
Cal fans knew they would lose one of their own this afternoon, and it was the #2 seed and Cal alum Rick Reinsberg who taught current Golden Bear, Brandon Beck, a lesson in how to grind out a victory. Beck did not play poorly. Quite to the contrary, it was the unflappability of Reinsberg that won the day. Reinsberg countered Beck’s two birdies with birdies of his own to halve those holes. And, as any match play veteran will tell you, when you don’t win the holes that you birdie, you’re in trouble. Reinsberg advanced 4&3 after the match went dormie heading to 15. Beck had a birdie putt on 15 to extend the match, but slid it by the cup, thus ending his run through the tournament. Reinsberg advances to take on Kevin Kobalter in the 7:40 group on Sunday.
Kobalter / Wilson
Kevin Kobalter, who survived a 23 hole match last weekend, outlasted former USF star Ryan Wilson 3&2. The match was all square after 10, but Kobalter took a stranglehold on the match when he won 11 and 12. From there, he did not squander his advantage the rest of the way thanks to solid, no mistakes play. Kobalter will face Rick Reinsberg in the Round of 8.
Wilson / Sparolini
The Round of 16 was looking like it would not have any drama, until what bordered on the impossible happened in the Steve Wilson / Steve Sparolini match. Sparolini, former SF City Champion, took a 3up lead after 15 holes, sending the match dormie heading to 16. Unfortunately for the boisterous gallery (which playfully included several family members, his lawyer, and his financial planner) who followed Sparolini all day, they watched as Wilson took holes 16 and 17, forcing the match to go to hole 18. Sparolini disappointed his supporters by knocking his approach shot short on 18, allowing Wilson to win the hole and send the match back to the front 9. Sparolini appeared to have the match won on the first extra hole, but his 10 foot birdie putt, which looked sure to go in, agonizingly missed on the high side, once again keeping the match at a stalemate. Sparolini found himself in trouble on the third extra hole, but had a marvelous bunker shot to force a 4th playoff hole! Unfortunately for Sparolini, he again found the bunker on the par 5 4th, and this time could not recover, and Wilson advanced after facing what seemed like sure defeat. Sparolini was understandably upset after the loss, but will surely be back again.
Foreman / Wagner
Garett Wagner also had to sweat it out, this time as a 1up winner over Terry Foreman. Wagner moves on to face Steve Wilson in the second foursome on Sunday.