Annual San Francisco City Am Gets Underway this Weekend
Feb. 6, 2014
Amidst the lore of the annual San Francisco City Amateur Championship is the story of Sacramento native and PGA Tour member Scott McCarron.
In the third round of the 2002 British Open at Muirfield, players were greeted with weather so awful that Tiger Woods shot an 81, and Jeff Maggert, using a driver on a par 3, could only watch as his tee shot flew a measly 190 yards.
The one-time amateur McCarron, meanwhile, inched up the leaderboard after a round of 1-over 72.
Afterwards, when McCarron came into the interview room, he was asked about the playing conditions. “Just another day at the San Francisco City Am,” he replied.
First played in 1917, the oldest municipal tournament in the U.S. returns Saturday at Lincoln Park and Presidio GC with open qualifying. Among those who’ll be taking a shot this year? Former S.F. Giants first baseman J.T. Snow, who was just at Pebble Beach Golf Links on Tuesday playing in the annual Giants-49ers Charity Shoot-Out as part of AT&T Pro-Am week. It was Snow who broke a push on the 18th, winning a chip-off with a shot to within six inches of the flag stick.
Following this weekend’s open qualifying for the men’s championship, there’ll be qualifying (Feb. 15-16) for the men’s open, women’s open, women’s championship and senior and super senior championships.
If it sounds like a huge field, that’s because it is. Over 700 players have entered this year’s event.
Once stroke play qualifying is done, the championship will move on to match play each of the next two weekends. The finals of each division will be held the weekend of March 8-9 on the Presidio course.
Last year, 16-year-old Olympic Club member Will Brueckner won the men’s title via a 3 and 1 victory over Isaiah Salinda. The women’s title went to Casie Cathrea of Livermore and the senior title was won by City am veteran Gary Vanier. Vanier, a record six-time winner of the championship, once said that the City was the “toughest tournament” he’s played in.
As for the legend of the event, it’s all about the names. Ken Venturi won the title when he was 18. George Archer won in 1963. On the women’s side, Juli Inkster captured titles in 1979 and 1981. Among those who’ve tried to win it but failed include Johnny Miller and a one-time Stanford student named Tom Watson.
The biggest win in championship history? That remains Venturi’s victory over Harvie Ward in 1956. Watched by over 13,000 fans, when they met at the first tee Venturi shook Ward’s hand firmly and declared, “Harvie, I’ve come to take my city back.”
And that’s what Venturi did, winning 5 and 4.