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Jason Anthony earns Medalist honors at San Francisco City
Jason Anthony (photo courtesy Mike Benham)
Jason Anthony (photo courtesy Mike Benham)

Jason Anthony of Fairfield posted 3-under 137 over the weekend to earn medalist honors for the second time at The San Francisco City Championship.

Playing his first round at the 2020 PGA Championship host course TPC Harding Park, Anthony looked at some of the preparations being made for the PGA, and liked what he saw.

"They manicured around the greens and especially the bunkers much better," said Anthony. They also cleaned up a lot of areas around the trees."

All of those differences would tend to lower scores. But Anthony and the rest of the field had to deal with fairways that are half their normal width, and rough that is longer than usual for this time of year in San Francisco.

"It’s much longer than normal, but not 'PGA-bad' yet," he said.

Anthony, at age 36, may be one of the elder statesman in a field that includes many high school and college players. But experience is everything in "The City," and having a title under your belt -- Anthony won in 2018 -- is a mental advantage that the USGA-seasoned Anthony will take into each of his matches.

"There's just kind of a calm over me when I play in this tournament," explained Anthony of his success in San Francisco. "I never really know what to expect coming in because it is my first tournament of the year, with usually not much opportunity to get out and practice much [prior]"

All championship division matches are played at TPC Harding Park, with the first round getting underway next Saturday. But Anthony and the rest of the field have to play one of their qualifying rounds at Lincoln Park, one of the most public courses in the country, but also one of the most diabolical. With a yardage of 5400, a par of 68, and a rating/slope of 65.5/107, one has to wonder why the scores at Lincoln Park are almost the same as those at TPC Harding Park, which will host a major in May.

"Lincoln is 5400 yard monster," explained Anthony. "It's one of the toughest mental tests of the year, with the bad lies, mud, and tiny targets. And this year the greens were firm which made it even more difficult."

Unless you've stood on the 17th tee, staring down a small target 240 yards below, with OB in the road right and one of the seven wonders of the modern world -- The Golden Gate Bridge --down below the cliffs on the left, and needing to finish par-par to make the cut, you won't know why scores can skyrocket at Lincoln Park.

Anthony wasn't worried about the cut, sitting at 3-under on that tee with just two holes to play, but he kept his foot on the gas and finished par-par before heading back to Harding Park, where players gather for scoring and a possible playoff for the last of the 32 match play spots.

This year, 7-over 147 was the magic number. Six players at that number breathed a sigh of relief after learning a potential seventh person on the number had been disqualified. No playoff, the numbers were perfect.

USF junior Alex Chin of Pleasanton and steady Mid-Am golfer Andrew Biggadike of Belmont finished at even par 140. Three players -- Darren Pang, Charles Porter, and Michael Jensen -- posted 141.

Pang, a high school junior from San Ramon, picked up his first amateur golf win at the AmateurGolf.com Winter Invitational across the bay at Corica Park in December. He impressed against a field loaded with collegiate players on winter break. Porter, of San Francisco, attends Napa Valley College, while Jensen is a Cal Berkeley graduate finding his sea-legs as a working amateur golfer.

Match play will be even more exciting this year as players test themselves at a major championship layout. One of them (Anthony) has a the sting of a loss in the finals to Evan Peterson as his mind as he readies for match play.

"Yeah, I have some unfinished business after losing in the finals last year."

One thing is for sure, everyone in that advanced to match play is happy to be playing Harding Park again next weekend. Anthony gave kudos to the tournament committee for finding a way to pull off the tournament as preparations for something bigger are underway.

Results: San Francisco City Championship
WinCACharles PorterSan Francisco, CA180
Runner-upCADomingo JojolaSan Francisco, CA120
SemifinalsCAMichael JensenSan Francisco, CA80
SemifinalsCAAnthony VernaOrinda, CA80
QuarterfinalsCATy MaciasSan Francisco, CA50

View full results for San Francisco City Championship

ABOUT THE San Francisco City Championship

The oldest municipal tournament in the USA. Match play event with scratch men's, senior, 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.

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

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