San Francisco City Championship: First round of Open Flight match play in the books
03 Mar 2024
by Pete Wlodkowski of

see also: View results for San Francisco City Open Flights, Presidio Golf Course

Tom Huckaby (center, shaking Ryan Wilson's hand) ran into a buzz saw named Ryan Takasugi (right) today
Tom Huckaby (center, shaking Ryan Wilson's hand) ran into a buzz saw named Ryan Takasugi (right) today

The match play portion of the Open Flights of the San Francisco City Championship at the historic Presidio Golf Course is underway. After 18 holes of stroke play qualifying took place last weekend, the 128 golfers of various abilities were placed into eight flights of 16.

Each flight is named for a tournament legend. Some of them are well-known stars like 1964 U.S. Open winner and longtime CBS commentator Ken Venturi, George Archer, and Bob Rosburg. Others are San Francisco legends, none of them more important to the city's golf future than Sandy Tatum, the former USGA president who spearheaded the rebirth of Harding Park Golf Course into a major championship venue that could still be enjoyed by residents and visitors at an affordable rate. (The course has been made part of the PGA Tour's TPC network since the project, and now goes by TPC Harding Park.)

Some highlights:

In the Ken Venturi flight, qualifying medalist Keanu Phillips of Deer Valley High School in Antioch (1-over 73) defeated Tom Kennedy of San Francisco, 2&1. Phillips is a basketball player at Deer Valley who also plays on the golf team; he is apparently doing a good job of shaking off the rust he said he was expecting on his first tournament of the spring. 

The match of the day might have been the one where Tom Huckaby of San Jose faced off against Ryan Takasugi of San Francisco. Neither player was more than 1-up through 14 holes. That is, until Takasugi chipped in from a tricky lie on the par-3 15th, then holed a 30-foot downhill putt on No. 16th to win the match, 3&2. Sometimes you have to yield to the hot player and smile, which is what the always-friendly Huckaby did.

In the George Archer flight, Isaiah Torres (Murrieta) won the most lopsided match of the day by defeating Scott Mathis of Petaluma 8&6. It wasn't as if Mathis couldn't string anything together, it was more a case of going up against a red-hot Torres, who must have channeled some of his hometown hero Rickie Fowler's improved play by firing a 36 on the front nine to take a huge lead. Rather than let up, Torres made par on No. 10, birdied No. 11, then closed the deal with a par on No. 12, one of the toughest par 4 holes in Northern California.

In the Bob Rosburg fligh, Dan Valine defeated Benjamin Francisco in sudden-death after the two battled all day, trading barbs, and leads. At one time on the front nine, Francisco won four holes in a row, then saw Valine claw back to even. He won two holes in a row on the back, but Valine wouldn't give up - eventually tying the match and winning with a par on the second extra hole. One of their playing partners -- Randall Schwartz -- joked about the mes -- here you had a match with a guy named Dan from Danville against one with the surname Francisco, from San Francisco. The name wasn't enough to take the smooth-swinging and long-bearded Francisco over the top - 

In the John Susko flight, Jonathon Gorospe (South San Francisco) defeated Koen Huynh of San Francisco 8&6. Huynh, 15 ia member of San Francisco's chapter of the First Tee Program, playing in his fourth City Championship. Each year, the tournament committee has granted complimentary entry fees to 8-10 First Tee golfers, and is keeping up that tradition. While Huynh didn't have his best stuff today, Gorospe played steady golf and got off to a big lead that can be tough to overcome. 

In the Harvie Ward flight, two matches required sudden-death to settle the score. Vinny Moran of San Francisco defeated Scott Schnaars (San Jose) in 20 holes. Playing the par-5 18th hole after tying the first, Moran chipped to two inches and for par, while Schnaars lipped out his par putt. We enjoyed catching up with Scott - he first met us 25 years ago at the U.S. Open in Pebble Beach while we had a Chevy Blazer with our logo parked outside Scott McNealy (father of Maverick) and

Gerald Rowe defeated Spencer Sohmer on the second extra hole after the two San Franciscans finished deadlocked.

"He was outdriving me by about 100 yards all day, and when I found out we were playing two par-5's in the playoff I didn't think I had a chance," joked Rowe. "But I managed to tie the first and win with a par on number eighteen. Never give up."

The following flights were had their first round matches on Sunday, March 3:

Sandy Tatum Flight - The flight named for the man that brought Harding Park back into the limelight -- 1974 USGA President and Stanford Alum Sandy Tatum -- saw the closest match of the day with Ryan Schneider of San Leandro taking 19 holes to oust Calvin Works of San Francisco. Schneider held a comfortable 3-up lead on the front nine, but Works fought back to take a 1-up lead before suffering a double bogey on No. 18 against Scneider's par, then doing the same thing on the first hole of sudden-death. 

In the Ray Pellegrini Flight, the closest match was between Andy Nowak of San Jose and Mel Smith of San Ramon -- Nowak ground out a 2-up victory in a match that was tied all the way through the 13th hole. Rounding out the eight brackets of Open Flight play, the Tom Culligan, Sr. flight saw one of the few women in the Open Flights -- Sheri Suto of San Francisco -- get eliminated by Robert Rimi of Albany. 


The Men's Championship Flight gets started this weekend, with a pre-qualifier starting on Friday, March 8 at Presidio G.C. and the weekend seeing over 160 players (including those that advance through the pre-qualifier) play 36 holes, one round at Harding Park and the other at Presidio (Saturday 3/9) with players playing the opposite course that they played the day before on Sunday 3/10. Men's Senior qualifying first-round matches will take place on March 12 and 13, and the Men's Super Senior qualifies on March 13 as well.

Women's Championship play gets underway Friday, March 15. More matches will be contested over the weekend, with all players who advance to the semi-finals of their flight advancing to Harding Park for Championship Weekend on March 23-24. You can find out more, and see the results of all brackets in real-time at



View results for San Francisco City Open Flights
ABOUT THE San Francisco City Open Flights

**Please note -- this is not the championship division or pre-qualifier. The Open Flights are for players not participating in the championship divisions and are open to all handicap levels.


Open to the first 160 entries received. No index is required. There will be no refunds after entries close. Contestants will play an 18-hole qualifying round at Presidio Golf Course on either Sat Feb 24 or Sun Feb 25. All players should be prepared to play on either day as no schedule requests will be taken.

The qualifying scores will be used to assign flights of 16 players each, as well as the seeding for match play. In the case of ties, there will be a card-off to determine who advances to play in each flight.

Flights 1-5 will play their first-round matches on Sat Mar 2, and Flights 6-10 will play their first-round matches on Sun Mar 3. All players should be prepared to play on either day as no schedule requests will be taken.

Qualifying, as well as the first two Open Match Flight rounds (Sat- Sun Mar 2-3, Sat Mar 16, will be played at Presidio Golf Course. The semifinal (Sat Mar 23) and final (Sun Mar 24) rounds will be played at TPC Harding Park Golf Course.

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

Players needing to withdraw should do so by filling out the form at tact/ . Players withdrawing before the entry deadline of February 19 will receive a refund of their entry fee minus $50. There will be no refunds after the entry deadline.


SF City players get 50% off Strackaline Yardage Books! CLICK HERE for details

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.

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