Martinez makes history with 3 section golf titles
“It’s a big deal, but if I focused on winning three, I wouldn’t have won,” Martinez said. “The most important thing was to go to NorCals.”
She advanced to next week’s NorCals at Stanford along with fellow medalists Paige Lee of Granite Bay and Nichole Cruz of section team champion Christian Brothers (there are no playoffs for medalist honors).
The trio topped a field of 102, but the day belonged to the Long Beach State-bound Martinez, who worked her magic one more time in sunny and almost windless weather.
“Shawnee is consistent and focused and a good all-around kid,” Enochs coach Matt Doyle said. “She pushes herself and often has to compete against herself. she deserves what she is getting.”
Martinez winced a little over her 72, above her victorious 70 a year ago and 71 as a sophomore. that said, it was the highest score she could have returned.
Her slow take-away and smooth but aggressive release is a comfortable fit at the Reserve, which was again set at 5,608 yards for the section’s best. Though only 5-foot-1 — “I haven’t grown since eighth grade” — she dominates by committing virtually no major errors.
Swinging with the precision of a metronome — tick, tick, tick — Martinez hit 16 greens in regulation and didn’t hole a putt longer than seven feet.
Her two-bogey, two-birdie day was interrupted by a nearly costly event at the par-4 17th. Incredibly, for the second straight year, she pushed her 7-iron approach off the green and into the water. after her drop, she bogeyed by burning the right edge from about 25 feet.
“I would do that, but I didn’t give up. I thought I made the putt,” Martinez said. “I hit everything solid but the putts just slid by.”
Martinez anchored four individual qualifiers, along with the three top teams, who will continue their season. Christian Brothers shot 399 and ended St. Francis’ run of five straight Masters titles, though St. Francis captured third behind runner-up Lodi.
Already plotting her revenge at The Reserve was promising Oakdale freshman Mabel Wong, the Valley Oak League MVP. Wong shot 77 and missed a playoff for a NorCal berth by one stroke, a painful result after finding hazards with three tee shots.
“I got a new driver but it didn’t work out so I went back to the old one two weeks ago,” she said. “I had some bad kicks.”
Turlock, the eight-time reigning Central California Conference champion and one of 13 teams to earn its way to Masters, tied with Whitney for seventh. East Union, the five-time VOL champion which has claimed five of the last six Division IV titles, settled for 12th.
The day ended beautifully for St. Mary’s junior Claire Burke (82), whose final shot produced a hole-in-one — a 9-iron from 106 yards at the fourth.
But no one wore a bigger grin than Martinez, who posed in front of the leaderboard, arm outstretched and three fingers held aloft.
A nice way to say goodbye to Shawnee’s Alley.
Bee staff writer Ron Agostini can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2302.