San Francisco City Golf Championship – Round of 32

Today was another day of firsts for me at the SF City. I have never before played behind two brothers battling in a match. Unfortunately the official results just show Galletti as the winner…? I would love to know if 14 year lefty Nicolo defeated his older brother Roberto in what looked to be a very close and intense match. Recently I’ve had the pleasure to be paired with both of them twice, once in the final round of the Amateur Christmas Classic at Del Monte in December, and then again recently the final day at the Amateur Wine County amateur at Stonetree GC.

What I can tell you is both these guys can play, but can you imagine being over 20 years old and playing your 14 year old brother? As we  patiently waited the back nine on every shot, it seemed like the Galletti brothers were grinding over 2 foot putts. Don’t get me wrong; with the rain soaked greens on the back nine, even a one foot putt was not to be taken for granted.

The other first was in over 30 years playing in the SF City, I’ve never been asked twice for our group to speed up the pace of play, only to finish #9 and have a three group back up on #10. I can understand putting regular play out in front of us on #1 before we start at 7:30, but to jam up the back nine as we make the turn was something new to me. Fortunately, the wait didn’t affect my play as after turning the front two up, I went birdie, birdie, eagle on 10-12 (although 10 was a conceded 10 footer). When my match ended on the 15th hole, we had already been on the course for 4 hours and 50 minutes.

Match play was meant to be played at a brisk pace, and personally I feel something needs to be reviewed if rounds are taking up to or exceeding 5 hours, especially in the rain. It would be my suggestion to the Harding Park management  and tournament officials, to not jam the 10th tee with play, so that those players making the turn can continue the even flow of their matches. Maybe it’s just that I’ve always been a fast player and somewhat impatient, especially now at age 51.

Today, my worthy opponent Scott Roak probably didn’t play his best game or even his average game, but he is a fine gentleman and fierce competitor and I enjoyed being in his group with his dad, Bob for two days. This is again, what I love about amateur golf and the competition; you’ll meet a lot of great new people!

I must admit that early this morning while warming up at the Olympic Club driving range I was a bit concerned with how I was hitting the ball (although usually I am just getting my body loose). This morning I was hitting all my warm up shots a little heavy, and my driver was flying all over the place. This carried over to my first tee shot of the match, a snap hook off the 1st tee that resembled my 1st two tee shots off #1 last year when I played in the British Senior Open at Sunningdale. Like many of the greatest players in the game have always said, that first tee shot off #1 comes with butterflies, I know they’ll be there, and I look forward to them.

Fortunately I was able to snap hook a 6 iron from behind the left trees onto the back fringe and make par. Losing the first hole is never a way to start a match. After the quick hook on #1 I was able to get my driver going for the rest of the round.

The other interesting thing that happened today was my longtime best ball partner and dear friend, Darryl Donovan called me at 7:15 while I was on the range, to tell me he was on the 101 at a complete stop. The CHP had closed the 101 in south San Jose due to some downed power lines. Unfortunately for Darryl, he had to somehow get off the freeway and speed the rest of the way, arriving 5 minutes before our starting time. This glitch did not bode well for Darryl as he fell 6 down after 9 holes to George Gandranata.

The event is now down to 16 players, of which 9 I know. There is some extreme talent left with George Gandranata (2009 NCGA Champ and #2 in NCGA points), Geoff Gonzalez (2009 State Amateur Champ and 5th in NCGA points), Scott Hardy (2-time US Mid Amateur semi-finalist), Ricky Stockton (3rd in 2009 NCGA points), and I guess I’d have to put myself in the mix (NCGA 2009 Player of the year) and the only past champ left in the tournament (1999).

After getting a preview of George Gandranata’s  game today, I know I am going to have my hands full next Saturday. George makes very few mistakes, and we’ve already had an epic battle in the semi finals of the NCGA amateur last Aug that ended victoriously for George on the 19th hole. I will need to play at my highest level to have a chance at victory against George. But regardless of the outcome, I know I will enjoy our match!

With rain forecast thru the week, it looks like another very wet weekend up ahead of us and unfortunately Harding with no drainage in the fairways will be close to unplayable. But the “City” will go on, and in two weeks the 2010 SF City Champ will have survived one of the games toughest events to win. The back to back 36 holes in the semis and finals will test those that survive to the max as mental and physical fatigue will play a major role in the final outcome

The very best of luck to the remaining 15 players and stay tuned for more golf action this coming week.

Randy Haag

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