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SF City Championship: Semifinal Notebook

By Tom Edwards – For amateurgolf.com

SAN FRANCISCO, California (March 10, 2007) -- The men’s semi-final round of the San Francisco City Golf Championship was played Saturday at the storied Harding Park Golf Course. The event was favored by a bright, sunny sky, temperatures in the seventies with a clean ocean breeze, and almost no one on hand to see it.

Asked to cover this tournament for amateurgolf.com, I was expecting to find some of the suspense and electricity that a quality amateur golf match can generate, including an enthusiastic gallery that increases in size as the field narrows. Ten or twenty years ago, this event drew hundreds, sometimes even thousands of spectators, and was deemed newsworthy enough to be thoroughly covered and reported by local media.

Remarkably, for today’s semi-final competition, aside from the competitors themselves, their caddies, the marshals, and the tournament officials, I could identify only four to six “spectators.” As picturesque as Harding is at this time of year, especially under these conditions, it’s hard to imagine how the City’s own amateur golf tournament seems to have lost so much of its luster.

The caliber of play on Saturday was consistent with the quality of the golfers who survived to reach the semi-final level.

Reid Scarff of Oroville was matched against Jim Evans of Redwood City -- the only San Francisco City Championship “veteran” (and a 2-time past champion) among the semifinalists -- and Kevin Smith of San Jose, the youngest of the final four at eighteen, dueled Chadd Cocco, listed as hailing from Moraga and St. Mary’s College.

Scarff and Cocco cruised through the first 18 holes. Both had established a five-hole advantage over their opponents by the match’s halfway point.

The second leg of the day’s tournament play was tighter, but neither Evans nor Smith could turn the tide. Evans did erase one hole from his then five-hole deficit in the early holes, but he gave one back shortly thereafter when his drive caught a tree on the right side of the fairway and apparently became ensnared in the dense branches. Ultimately Evans accepted the penalty for an unplayable lie and couldn’t improve on the bogey recorded by Scarff.

In the end, Cocco, who made a whopping 10 birdies over the 29 holes played, defeated Smith, 8-and-7 and Evans was eliminated by Scarff by a margin of 6-and-4.

Interviewed in the clubhouse at the conclusion of play, both Smith and Evans were gracious and candid about their own performances and those of their opponents. Smith, playing Harding for the first time during the tournament, was unashamed to concede that Chadd Cocco was simply beyond his reach after a fast start that morning established most of the winning edge he enjoyed at the end. “He made a ton of birdies,” Smith observed, and even though Smith felt he also played well, he gave his opponent credit for a stellar performance.

A senior at Mitty High in San Jose, Smith frequents the Coyote Creek Golf Course and said he will probably choose between St. Mary’s, Santa Clara, and Berkeley when he moves on to college.

Jim Evans had been to the tournament before. He states this was the fifth time he survived at least into the semi-final round of the City Championship. Evans won the tournament twice, in successive years (1995 and 1996), was the tournament’s runner-up in the men’s division once. He has now been eliminated twice at the semi-final tier.

At 47, Evans was willing to stand as the group’s “old man,” but attributed the day’s outcome to the fact that he “just played awful,” and “putted even worse.” Evans explained that, at this stage he’s really a once-a-week golfer, but he still plays this tournament and some others, and is active in competitive amateur tennis as well. But Evans says his priority is operating his marketing business so he can meet college expenses for two children. Like many serious amateurs, Evans had his own flirtation with the idea of going pro.

“I did play a few years on mini-tours,” said Evans. “But there are a lot of good golfers, they’re a dime a dozen. I had to get on with my life.”

Reid Scarff played consistently and then received a congratulatory hug from his mother, who was among the small entourage that was scattered between the two final groups on the course. Appearing composed and confident, Scarff confined his few mistakes to two or three holes over the course of the day and offered his opponent little opportunity to narrow the five-hole advantage Scarff held beginning the second eighteen-hole round. By Scarff’s assessment, the best shot he hit on either of the two rounds was a five-iron which left him with a foot-long putt for birdie at Fourteen.

After the day’s play, Scarff talked about being from a family in which everybody golfs, including a brother who was previously club pro at Butte Creek Country Club, where Scarff takes his routine laps as a member. After four years of business studies at UOP, Scarff says he’s currently “just playing golf.” As to the future, he has aspirations of playing on the professional circuit, summarizing, “We’re gonnna’ give it a shot.”

The only comments about the condition of the Harding course were tempered. Visually spectacular as always, greens were nonetheless rather coarse, and Jim Evans lamented that the fairways and rough areas have again declined in the past few years, despite being earmarked as the venue for several future pro tour events.

* * * Semifinal results from the San Francisco City Championship follow:

Men’s Championship flight: ====================

Reid Scarff, Oroville def. Jim Evans, Redwood City, 6-and-4 Chadd Cocco, Moraga def. Kevin Smith, San Jose, 8-and-7

Women's Championship flight: ======================

Grace Na, Alameda, def. Kelly Wilson, El Dorado Hills, 7-and-6 Diane Kwon, Fremont, def. Emily Childs, default

ABOUT THE San Francisco City Championship

ENTRIES MUST BE RECEIVED BY 5:00 PM FEBRUARY 15, 2022

MEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP DIVISION
$300 ENTRY FEE INCLUDES ALL GREEN FEES.

*An NCGA Points Tournament*

**Entry procedure for 2022: Exempt players will have first chance to register. They will be emailed an access code to register, and registration for these players opens on January 3. Registration opens for all other players on January 15.

Exempt players may email results@amateurgolf.com to request an access code.

Exemption categories:

* The past 10 years of the San Francisco City Golf Champions
* 2021 San Francisco City Men’s Championship Match Play Qualifiers
* Top 20 men’s 2020-2021 NCGA Points Lists
* 2021 NCGA Champions (Amateur, Mid-Amateur, Junior)
* 2021 USGA Event Qualifiers (Amateur, Mid- Amateur, Junior)

On January 15 at 8:00 am, registration will open to all players with a handicap index of 6.4 or lower as of the date of entry, and will remain open until the field limit (120 players) is reached. When the field limit is reached, all additional entrants will pre-qualify at Lincoln Park on Friday, March 18, 2022.

Players entering pre-qualifying will pay an entry fee of $150 for the pre-qualifier, and those advancing from the pre-qualifier will pay an additional $150.

The 36-hole match play qualifier will be held March 19-20, 2022, with 18 holes played at TPC Harding Park and 18 holes at Lincoln Park Golf Course for a combined 36-hole qualifying score.

There will be 156 players in the qualifying round with 64 players advancing to match play. When all qualifying has been completed, the Men’s Championship Flight will consist of 64 contestants. In the event of a playoff to qualify for match play, a player must be present in order to retain his right to participate in the playoff.

Match play will begin on March 26, 2022. All match play for the Championship Flight will be held at TPC Harding Park.

CART POLICY
The use of carts is prohibited for players and caddies in the Men’s Championship Flight (Appendix I – Local Rule Applies)

A schedule of all dates of play can be found on the tournament website sfgolfchampionship.com.

ABOUT THE SAN FRANCISCO CITY CHAMPIONSHIP
The oldest municipal tournament in the USA. Match play event with scratch men's, senior men’s, women's, senior women’s, and open flight divisions. Past champions include Ken Venturi, Harvie Ward, Juli Inkster, Bob Rosburg, George Archer, and Dorothy Delasin. Some of the “non winners” include Tom Watson and Johnny Miller. Click the “history” tab for more about this wonderful event.

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