San Francisco Open (National Match Play Open)

The San Francisco Open was a golf tournament on the PGA Tour that began as a match-play tournament but ended as a stroke-play event. During the match era, it was known as the San Francisco National Match Play Open. It was part of the winter tour, scheduled among other tournaments in California.

First played: 1930

Last played: 1946

In terms of star power, the biggest championship match clash was 1938's Jimmy Demaret vs. Sam Snead, won by Demaret. It was a battle of two future Hall of Famers. But it might not have seemed that way at the time: Snead was just in his third year, although already a multiple champ. For Demaret, the victory was the very first of his PGA Tour career. Demaret won again in 1940, the only golfer to win this event twice during its match-play period.

Beginning in 1942, however, the San Francisco National Match Play Open switched to stroke play and became the San Francisco Open (called the San Francisco Victory Open one time, in 1944).

Ben Hogan won the first stroke-play event in 1942 (with Snead as runner-up), then Byron Nelson won the next three in a row — including two in the same year. Nelson won it in January of 1944, then won it again when the tournament was played in December of 1944.

After this event's end, following the 1946 tournament, the PGA Tour didn't return to San Francisco until the Lucky International Open, played in the 1960s.

Winners of the San Francisco Open/National Match Play Open

1930 — Leo Diegel def. Al Espinosa, 6 and 4
1931 — Wiffy Cox def. George Von Elm, 6 and 5
1932 — Craig Wood def. Al Espinosa, 2 and 1
1933 — not played
1934 — Tom Creavy def. Jimmy Thomson, 3 and 2
1935 — Jug McSpaden def. Harry Cooper, 3 and 2
1936 — Willie Hunter def. Willie Goggin, 4 and 2
1937 — Lawson Little def. Neil Christian, 1-up (20 holes)
1938 — Jimmy Demaret def. Sam Snead, 4 and 3
1939 — Dick Metz def. Horton Smith, 1-up
1940 — Jimmy Demaret def. Willie Goggin, 2 and 1
1941 — Johnny Revolta def. Harry Cooper, 7 and 6
1942 — Ben Hogan, 279
1943 — not played
1944 — Byron Nelson, 275 (played in January)
1944 — Byron Nelson, 281 (played in December)
1945 — not played
1946 — Byron Nelson, 283

Golf courses: The tournament rotated to golf courses around the Bay Area. Olympic Club and Lake Merced were most commonly played, but other host sites included Presidio, Harding Park, Ingleside and San Francisco Golf Club.

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