Adora Liu and Michael Jensen (Conner Penfold photo)
There wasn’t much drama in the finals of the 106th playing of the San Francisco City Championships on Sunday at TPC Harding Park, as Michael Jensen
and Adora Liu
both claimed lopsided victories to claim titles in the men’s and women’s divisions of the longest uninterrupted golf tournament in the world.
Jensen, a former standout at Cal who won the prestigious Stocker Cup in October
, scored a 7 and 5 victory over Kyle Dougherty
while Adora Liu, a senior at Fremont (Calif.) High School who’s headed to Cal next fall, defeated Olivia Duan, 9 and 8.
Neither Jensen nor Liu trailed at any point during their 36-hole finals, making for an early afternoon on a clear, cool and breezy day near Lake Merced.
Men’s Championship Division
The beauty of the San Francisco City Golf Championships is often found in the stark contrast of each opponent as they stand on the first tee ready to do battle. After all, this is the tournament where bartenders, police officers and fireman have tangled with the country club elite in memorable clashes of rolled-up corduroys and customed tailored trousers.
The disparity between Jensen and Dougherty, though not as colorful, was nonetheless intriguing.
The 35-year-old Jensen, the former Cal standout who tested the waters on various mini-tours as a professional, has built quite a resume for himself since regaining his amateur status, including a win over some of the best mid-amateurs in the country at the Stocker Cup last October.
His opponent in the final was a virtual unknown from southern California, 20-year-old lefthander Kyle Dougherty, who played very little high school golf due to an injury and the pandemic and is now taking a gap year after spending one year at Indiana University. His best showing to date was tying for second at the AmateurGolf.com San Diego Amateur
in January, and he's made the seven-hour drive to the Bay Area from his home in Irvine each of the last three weekends to compete in the City.
Jensen, a San Francisco resident who works as a vice president at Kidder Matthews, the largest independent commercial real estate firm on the West Coast, built as much as a four-hole advantage in the morning but Dougherty cut the lead in half with wins on holes 15 and 16 and trailed by just two at lunch.
“I felt pretty good only being down two at lunch because I played terribly,” said Dougherty. “I think I hit one fairway and I was 2-under par.”
Who would be the first to seize the momentum at the start of the second round was definitely on the mind of both golfers as they waited to tee off on for their second tour of Harding Park. After Jensen’s opening tee shot of the second round sliced into the cypress trees, Dougherty piped his tee shot down the middle to within 90 yards of the green.
The nerviest moment all day for Jensen occurred when he thought me might have to go back to the tee after losing his ball, but with the time running out, the ball was found in the deep rough near the fairway. The lie was not good and Jensen knew a shot that found any part of the green would be an accomplishment.
From just under 150 yards, Jensen muscled the ball out of the unforgiving rough and nearly hole the shot, hitting the pin before it came to rest two feet from the hole for a conceded birdie. Even though he matched Jensen’s birdie, Dougherty knew he took a gut punch.
“I felt pretty good until Michael hit the pin on his approach shot on 1 to start the second round,” said Dougherty. “We were almost out of time looking for his ball and I’m thinking he might have to go back to the tee and I’m right in the middle of the fairway staring at the pin with a wedge in my hand. I looked at his lie and I thought to myself there’s no chance he gets it close and he ends up almost holing out.
“He was hitting those shots all day. I didn’t expect anything less from him.”
"I was very lucky to find my ball,” said Jensen. "He’d clawed back a bit so if he had won that hole, I would have only been 1 up. I pulled of the shot and we halved the hole with birdies and then won the next two holes to get a little breathing room. It was a big momentum keeper for me.”
Perhaps a bit rattled, Dougherty lost the next two holes to pars and suddenly found himself four down. He couldn’t get closer than three holes the remainder of the day before Jensen closed the match with a par on the 31st hole.
“It was an uphill climb all day and obviously Michael played very well. I couldn’t find any consistency with my driver all day and missed a bunch of putts. I was in the trees all day so I had to scramble and get up and down from everywhere. I managed to hang in there for the first 18 but couldn’t do it for the second round.”
Jensen's game - and his legs - held up just fine over the last three weekends as he added a championship that had eluded him for 20 years.
“It’s right up there with one of the biggest wins of my career, for sure,” said Jensen, a new father who first started playing in The City as a 15-year-old, with his deepest run coming two years ago when he reached the semifinals.
“Before Stocker Cup, I was playing quite a bit but over the last four months I haven’t played much at all, so I’m surprised my game has held up. My putter and short game got a little finer each week and I could feel my swing loosen up a bit. There’s a lot of golf packed into these three weekends.”
Despite the loss, Dougherty can take away a lot of positives from the last three weeks.
“It does a lot for my confidence,” said Dougherty, who knocked out highly-regarded mid-amateurs Beau Forest
(1 up) and Brett Viboch
(2 and 1) on Saturday to earn his spot in the championships match. “I didn’t play well for a couple of months but found something in San Diego. I was in contention my next tournament and came here and I really felt I could win it because my game felt great."
Adora Liu, a senior at Fremont High School, closed out her good friend, Olivia Duan on the 19th hole for a 9 and 8 victory over the diminutive sophomore from Cupertino High School.
“It was relaxing (playing against Duan) but at the same time I didn’t know how to react after I won a hole,” said Liu, who will play her collegiate golf at Cal. “Shooting low scores and beating good players in this tournament helps my confidence going forward.”
Senior and Super Senior Divisions
defeated Richard Maxwell
, 6 and 4 to win the senior division, while Frank Apodaca
posted a 4 and 3 win over Rob Miller
to capture the super senior title.
Miller’s daughter, Sammie, won the Juli Inkster Flight, making the Millers the first father-daughter tandem to win their respective flights in the same year.
“It’s a feather in your cap to win The City, but having Sammie win, too, really made today special.”
“I’m really proud of my pa,” said Sammie, who attends Carondelet High School in Concord. “He wanted this really bad.
The Millers will head to Puerto Rico in a few weeks where Sammie will compete in the U.S. Women’s Four-Ball Championship.
ABOUT THE San Francisco City Championship
*An NCGA Points Tournament*
players will have first chance to register.
They will be emailed an access code to register, and
registration for these players will open before
registration opens for all other
Exempt players may email
request an access code.
* The past 10 years of the San Francisco City Golf
* 2023 San Francisco City Men’s Championship
Match Play Qualifiers
* Top 20 men’s 2022-2023 NCGA Points Lists
* 2023 NCGA Champions (Amateur, Mid-Amateur,
* 2023 USGA Event Qualifiers (Amateur, Mid-
Once trhe exempt player registration period ends,
open to all players with a handicap index of 6.4
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 Presidio Golf Club on Friday,
March 8, 2024.
Players entering pre-qualifying will pay an entry fee
of $150 for the pre-qualifier, and those
advancing from the pre-qualifier will pay the
of the entry fee (must be
paid prior to playing).
The 36-hole match play qualifier will be held March
9-10, 2024, with
18 holes played at TPC Harding Park and 18 holes at
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
player must be present in order to retain his
to participate in the playoff.
Match play will begin on March 16, 2024. All
play for the Championship Flight will be held at
TPC Harding Park.
The use of carts is prohibited for players and caddies
in the Men’s Championship Flight (Appendix I – Local
A schedule of all dates of
play can be found on the tournament website
ABOUT THE SAN FRANCISCO CITY
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
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.
View Complete Tournament Information