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Brian Ma wins San Francisco City Championship
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (March 19, 2017) -- Today's 36-hole final match in the San Francisco City Championship came down to the last hole, as it often does. Recent USF grad Seb Crookall-Nixon was battling a 16-year-old Mitty High School (San Jose) player named Brian Ma, and the afternoon fog made it so cold that one kind woman saw it in her heart to loan her hand warmers to numb-fingered photographer, Steve Lewis.

Neither player was backing down as they faced the mighty 18th, a dogleg left that winds it's way around the lake, to a tucked, elevated green. With Ma cutting the corner a bit too much, he was forced to play his approach to the right of the green. Safe, but no easy par.

Meanwhile Crookall-Nixon was playing from the right side of the fairway, but his 7-iron approach came in hot to the firm green and left him a lengthy downhill birdie putt that he played to the 10-foot range, inside Ma's pitch shot, which came up 15- feet short.

With the first crack at par, Ma drained a putt that most players had been misreading. The match wasn't over, but the pressure was on the former USF golfer, Crookall-Nixon. A former top junior player in his native England, he showed no sign of fear and boldly struck his putt, but alas it caught two- thirds of the hole and lipped out. The match belonged to the high schooler, Ma.

"This tournament is the biggest win I have had so far in my golf career. Throughout the entire tournament, my long game was very consistent, and it was setting me up for many birdies during the round," said Ma the third youngest winner in the tournaments 101 year history.

"I hit a good putt on the last and thought it was in but it just caught too much of the hole and lipped out," said Crookall-Nixon, who overall was happy with his play considering it was just his second competitive tournament since graduating in May.

The players were never separated by more than two holes during the 36-hole final, which started under calm but cool conditions at 7:30 in the morning. Ma built a two-hole lead after 13 holes but Crookall-Nixon made birdies on the 16th and 18th holes to square the match at the lunch break. Ma was nursing a 1-up lead after he won the 32nd hole of the day (par-4 14th) with a bogey, but Crookall- Nixon squared the match on the next hole after rolling in a 15-foot birdie putt.

The Englishman missed an opportunity to take the lead in the match on the 34th hole, the short par-4 16th. After playing a brilliant second shot to within five feet, Crookall-Nixon's birdie putt slipped past the hole. The par-3 17th was halved with pars, setting up the thrilling finish on No. 18.

"My emotions almost got the better of me in the middle of the match," explained Ma. "But prior to the weekend I was working on forgetting about bad shots and accepting mistakes, and I was able to keep my head in the game."

-- USF Athletics, the NCGA and SF Chronicle contributed to this story

WOMEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP

For the second straight year 15-year-old Sabrina Iqbal has won the San Francisco City Championship. With the victory Iqbal became the first back-to-back winner since since Casie Cathrea.

The top-seeded Iqbal won the 2nd hole of the 36-hole title match on Sunday and never looked back as she handled 15-seed Kiran Sangha 10&9.

Iqbal, a TCU commit, led 2 up after 12 holes but took things to a new level over the eight holes, winning seven of them to take a commanding 9 up advantage.

Iqbal concluded the match in dramatic fashion with an eagle on the 27th hole.

“I was looking forward to this. I wanted to go back-to-back," told the NCGA. "I love match play but don’t play in it often,” Iqbal said. “Overall, my game is in a good place. But I still need to improve on everything. There’s always room for improvement.”

In the Julie Inkster Division it was No. 10 Marie Dean besting No. 5 Cynthia Zhang in 19 holes

-The NCGA contributed to this story

SENIOR DIVISION

Once again Gary Vanier had to dig deep to emerge victorious. After winning his semifinal match on Saturday in 19 holes, Vanier had to play 20 holes on Sunday to win the title but in the end it was well worth it.

Playing as the top-seed, Vanier faced No. 26 Rich Rowley in what turned out to be a match of two sides. Vanier came storming out of the gates going 4 up after 12 holes. However, Rowley would fight back to win five of the final six holes and with his victory on No. 18 the match was all-square.

With his lead now gone Vanier regrouped and after halving the first extra hole he won the next and lifted the hardware.

The victory of Vanier was his fourth San Francisco City Championship Senior title and 10th overall after winning the championship draw six- times.

SUPER SENIOR DIVISION

The Super Senior Division went to extra holes as well and it was eight-seed Ron Johnson who outlasted three-seed Tom O'Grady.

Johnson was 2 up through 13 holes, only to see O'Grady win the next two holes and square the match. After Johnson won Nos. 14 and 15 the duo halved the next three holes and set the stage for the extra hole triumph.

OPEN DIVISION
Ken Venturi Flight
No. 6 Ken Harrington defeated No. 4 James McGGilley 3&1

John Susko Flight
No. 11 Drew Walker defeated No. 8 Kevin Nalty 6&5

George Archer Flight
No. 14 Abi Vickram defeated No. 16 Shoe Sugiyama 8&6

Harvie Ward Flight
No. 5 Daniel Sheridan defeated. No. 3 Andrew Pinkerton 2&1

Ray Pellegrini Flight
No. 3 Phil Pineda defeated No. 9 David Simmons 5&4

Sandy Tatum Flight
No. 16 Michael Redman defeated No. 6 Matthew 20 holes Didden
ABOUT THE San Francisco City CHAMPIONSHIP

NOTE: 2017 REGISTRATIONS CLOSED ON JAN. 15.

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

156 contestants will be allowed to qualify for the Men’s Championship flight. Qualifying will consist of 36 holes played at TPC Harding Park and Lincoln Park Golf Courses. The first 120 entries, based on the earliest date received, with an index of 6.4 or lower as of 12/01/2016 shall go directly into the qualifying beginning on March 4, 2017. If more than 120 entries are received, the remaining entrants will pre- qualify for the final 36 spots on Friday, March 3, 2017 at Lincoln Park Golf. Pre-qualifiers who do not qualify will be refunded $150. Entrants who do not show for pre- qualifying will not be entitled to a refund. Once all qualifying has been completed, the Men’s Championship Flight will consist of 63 contestants from the Men’s Championship qualifier, as well as the Past Champion, who will hold the number two seed. Competition will begin on March 11, 2017. All play for the Championship Flight will be held at TPC Harding Park Golf Course. Those contestants who post the 64th and 65th low scores will be deemed alternate #1 and #2, respectively.

ABOUT THE SAN FRANCISCO CITY CHAMPIONSHIP
The oldest municipal tournament in the USA. Match play event with scratch senior, women's and net divisions. Past champions include Ken Venturi, 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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