by Matt Foley, exclusive for amateurgolf.com
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – February 26, 2006 -
The cold, blistery weather that battered Harding Park two weekends ago weekend returned on Sunday, as the final 8 golfers in the SF City Championship battled the elements, and each other, to narrow the field down to the final four
As golfers made their push to the final weekend the atmosphere was markedly more tense. When all was said and done, Kobalter, Wagner, Johnson and Haag are the four names being 36 hole match play competition next weekend to decide the winner.
Bramlett / Johnson
At this stage in the competition it is not quite accurate to consider any match an upset. And that was the case here as #9 seed Will Johnson outlasted #1 seed Joseph Bramlett in a match that went down to the wire. Johnson led through most of the match, but never was able to take more than a 2up lead. Heading to 16 down 1, Bramlett coolly won the hole, evening the match and assuring that he would play 18 for the first time in match play competition. The pair halved #17 with bogeys as the wind and the rain really started to pick up.
Johnson’s drive on 18 split the fairway, while Bramlett found his way into the lateral hazard off the tee. After taking a penalty drop, Bramlett was not able to draw his ball enough to reach the green. Johnson’s approach was short, but all he needed was bogey at that point. Bramlett, needing to make his final chip, missed to the right, and conceded Johnson’s final putt, and Will Johnson advanced to the last four of the competition. His opponent will be Randy Haag, who outlasted Matt Foley 4&3. Bramlett now can begin looking forward to his final high school season heading into his college career at Stanford.
Haag / Foley
Matt Foley still has not played the final three holes at Harding Park. But, unfortunately for him today, that meant his exit from the tournament, as #5 seed Randy Haag secured a 4&3 win. Haag is now the highest seed left in the tournament after today’s matches. For Foley it was a day of near misses, as putt after putt went close but would not fall. Down 3 heading to 15, the always friendly Foley was displeased to see his drive end up not only in the trap, but in a tire mark as well. His approach missed right, but despite getting up and down to save par, Randy Haag finished him off with a well earned birdie putt from 8 feet. Haag took a 3 shot lead heading to 10. Foley, though, would not go down easy, battling back with wins on 10 and 11 getting the match to just 1down. But Foley’s putt on 12 would lip out, the story of his day, and from there Haag regained control of the match.
Following the match Foley was upbeat despite the loss. A few putts here and there meant the difference to him, and he felt Haag played well and made him pay when those putts didn’t fall.
#5 seed Haag now becomes the high seed left in the field, and will face off against Will Johnson.
Reinsberg / Kobalter
Kevin Kobalter stunned #2 seed Rick Reinsberg with a 1up win on Saturday afternoon. Kobalter trailed for a good portion of the match, despite both players playing well. Reinsberg led by 1 after 16, but Kobalter made birdie on 17 and forced the match to go to 18 all square. On 18, Kobalter split the fairway with his drive, with Reinsberg’s drive making it all the way to the bunker.
The two were playing along side the Wilson / Wagner match that was also down to the wire, and the gallery that had gathered watched some of the best drama of the tournament. Reinsberg and Kobalter both left their approach shots short, but Reinsberg long putt came up well short, and Kobalter chipped from the fringe at the bottom of the green up to the top shelf of the 18th green and put it right by the cup. Reinsberg was forced into a must make uphill putt from about 15 feet. When it slid by the cup right, the match was over, and Kobalter surged to an impressive 1up victory by winning the final 2 holes of the match.
Wilson / Wagner
Steve Wilson managed to create drama out of a seemingly desperate situation again today. Just as he found himself yesterday he was down 3 with only 3 to play. And, just like he did yesterday, he forced the match to go on to extra holes, this time against Garret Wagner. And the two can talk about it on their ride home. The two are both members at Discovery Bay, and actually carpooled to the course together today. They will have plenty to talk about as there was plenty of good golf played between the two.
The match went dormie on 16. Wilson won 16 and 17, and needed a win on the par 4 18th hole to extend the match. His drive was dead center, while Wagner found himself in the tree line. In what looked like a sure advantage for Wilson, Wagner pulled of a miracle shot, drawing the ball back and landing just passed the green on the hill. Wilson’s approach was on the fringe, pin high and stellar. He calmly made par, and when Wagner’s comeback par putt did not go down, Wilson found himself in a déjà vu.
In extra holes the wind and the rain grew steadily worse, as both players struggled to find their rhythm. They traded bogeys on #1, and headed to the 20th hole of the day. Wagner put his drive just off the lip of the bunker, and Wagner was in the fairway facing a long approach. Wagner, though, stuck his approach shot, and Wilson came up well short. Wilson chipped up, but his putt to save par would not go, and Wagner escaped with a win on the 20th hole.
Editor's note: The writer Matt Foley (a law student at UC Berkeley and avid golfer) is no relation to player Matt Foley, who saw his valiant run ended today in the quarterfinals.