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Goh snaps lengthy drought for city golfers

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Sweet swing - Justin Goh, 14, defeated John Burke 5 and 4 at Lincoln Park Golf Course to win the San Francisco Junior Golf Championship on Thursday. - GODOFREDO VASQUEZ/SPECIAL TO THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Godofredo Vasquez/special to the s.f. examiner
  • Sweet swingJustin Goh, 14, defeated John Burke 5 and 4 at Lincoln Park Golf Course to win the San Francisco Junior Golf Championship on Thursday.

For 20 years, Josh Levin — a former golfer at St. Ignatius — held a certain distinction.

But that distinction — courtesy of a soon-to-be sophomore golfer at St. Ignatius — is no more.
Justin Goh claimed the 84th annual San Francisco Junior Golf Championship on Thursday at Lincoln Park Golf Course, becoming the first San Franciscan since Levin to hoist the tournament’s coveted cup.

Goh defeated Sacramento’s John Burke 5 and 4 on the 14th hole, clinching the tournament title.

“I’m really happy about how I played,” the 14-year-old Goh said. “But I knew I was going to be up against some really tough opponents.”

He was right.

Burke, 16, eliminated tourney favorite Andrew Bonner in the semis by sinking a winning birdie on the 20th hole. Bonner was attempting to be the first three-time San Francisco Junior Golf champion since Bob Marsky Jr, who last accomplished the feat in 1932.

Burke was up three on Bonner with three holes remaining. Bonner won those holes to tie the match, but ultimately lost on the 20th.

“I was definitely nervous, but I wanted to stay calm and not show that I was scared or anything,” Burke said of playing the two-time champion Bonner. “That was emotionally draining.”

After his thrilling upset win, Burke took on Goh, and was down three by the eighth hole. Goh won the next three holes, stretching his lead to a commanding six.  

“I just didn’t make as many putts as I needed to make,” Burke said.

Burke, however, mounted a slight comeback on the 12th and 13th holes, trimming Goh’s lead to four.

“I was just trying to get the deficit down, ‘cause I knew he was going to win,” Burke said. “I just didn’t want it to be a blowout.”

Goh might have lost hole 12 by conceding after losing his ball, but the San Franciscan didn’t lose his wits — much.
“I have to admit, yes, I got mad when I conceded the hole,” Goh said. “But I realized I was still 6-up and I had plenty of holes to go.”

But for the kid who picked up his first club at age 7 and learned to play in a bunker, two holes after his concession was plenty enough.