William Brueckner Def Isaiah Salinda 3 &1 and Gary Vanier Def Jim Williams 7&5
Courtesy of http://www.amateurgolf.com
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (March 10, 2013) — Sunday’s championship match at the 2013 San Francisco City Championship was ‘supposed’ to be the culmination of red-hot runs by top-seed Andrew Biggadike and No. 3 Alex Franklin, the reigning amateurgolf.com Tournament Series co-Player of the Year.
Apparently nobody told that to Will Brueckner and Isaiah Salinda.
In Saturday’s semifinals, Brueckner upset Franklin, 5-and-4, to advance to Sunday’s 36-hole championship match against Salinda. Salinda reached the final by sending Biggadike home with a 3-and-2 defeat.
Rather than a Biggadike-Franklin finale, ‘The City’ came down to a pair of upstart high schoolers ready for action — and boy did they live up to the moment.
Brueckner, a 16-year-old Olympic Club member from Walnut Creek, Calif., won the 2nd, 3rd and 4th holes in the afternoon 18 to distance himself from Salinda and never looked back, ultimately taking a 3- and-1 championship victory at TPC Harding Park.
“I’m very tired but even more excited,” said Brueckner, who considers this the top win of his amateur career. “It definitely wasn’t because of consistent play, but my putter was solid.”
Salinda was 2-up through the first seven holes but — perhaps a sign of the day’s theme — Brueckner rallied. He won Nos. 8 and 9 to get even.
Salinda wouldn’t quit, though. He took a 2-up lead after the opening 18 and appeared to have things in order to score yet another upset according to the seeds.
“I knew I had to get something going on the second 18,” Brueckner said. “I started getting the driver more accurate and irons closer.”
Brueckner lost the opening hole of the afternoon 18 but reeled off three straight wins to take the momentum.
Brueckner, who hopes to one day play at Stanford, credits a flop-shot he used to dig himself out of trouble on hole No. 2 in the second 18 as the difference maker.
“My drive was out of the fairway and I had to layup,” he said. “I had about 40 yards in to a raised green with a tough pin over a bunker. I was able to get it to about five feet and made the putt. That was a big hole.”
My closing comments on the SF City- The SF City is one of the most historic amateur events in the country, yet the coverage and galleries have dwindled. In the old days it was unheard of for a High School kid to even make match play, let alone play another High School kid in the finals. Oh how the game has changed!!
The only knock on these immensely talented young players is their pace of play, which I can attest to first hand is ridiculously slow, and its hurting the game in my opinion. I didn’t personally witness this match so I cannot say if these two young players were playing slow, but the many High School and College players I’ve played with recently have been dreadfully slow.
I must say that many of the best young players are not slow, two in particular are back to back semi finalist Alex Franklin, who putts the eyes out of it, and 2012 NCGA Player of the Year Ben Geyer. Both have short routines that are efficient and work. While others are taking up to two minutes to hit shots or putts. I guess it’s true when your older your patience for slow play dwindles as well.
On the senior side, terminator Gary Vanier, who happens to have the best match play record in history of this event, played consistent great golf and finished off most matches early. Gary has only lost to one player ever in a SF City final and is 7-1 in the finals (I outlasted him in 1999 to win my lone title, but did so by beating the best player ever to compete in this event)
How do we get this great event back to the prestige of old, with galleries, media and coverage? I really don’t know, but I’d love to hear your ideas?