East Union High's Brink earns spot in NorCal golf tournament

ragostini@modbee.comMay 13, 2013 

— East Union High senior Will Brink goes about his golf-course business with a steady but determined hand.

The slim left-hander brandishes a lot of game but also a lot of heart. Hence his admirable success over the years in me-vs.-you playoffs.

That special quality extended his season Monday at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Championships.

Brink, after a 1-under-par 71 at The Reserve at Spanos Park, scored a solid par on the second playoff hole to edge Turlock junior Teo Chiesa for the fourth and final berth at next Monday's Northern California Championships.

It will mark Brink's second trip to NorCals. As a sophomore, he got there by somehow surviving a 5-for-1 playoff scramble at the Masters. Last week, he turned in a 72 at the Section Division 4 at Castle Oaks, then drained a 35-footer to slip past Central Valley's Anthony Bonales to return to The Reserve.

Then came his latest example of Brink-manship, the reason why he is the Stanislaus District's only NorCal qualifier.

"It was definitely helpful to shoot a good round," Brink said. "I don't get as jittery in the playoffs now. I'm still nervous, just not anxious."

Chiesa, encouraged by an explosive seven-birdie 71, owned the advantage on the first playoff hole with a straight tee shot followed by a pitching wedge to within 20 feet. Brink, out of position in a waste-bunker, recovered with a clutch approach onto the green for a tying par.

But at the par-4 10th, Chiesa barely overcooked his approach, chipped about four feet long and missed the par putt. Brink tapped in and the two — the only players still on the course from a field of 118 — shook hands.

"It's bittersweet," Chiesa summarized. "I played well and I can't go out of here feeling bitter."

The playoff capped an otherwise sobering day for local entries.

Central Catholic senior Andrew Bonner, who'll soon tee it up for Colorado, struggled from his opening swing en route to an 80. His tough day seemed to unnerve his teammates, all promising underclassmen, and the Raiders totaled a 415 and placed eighth out of 15 teams. CC, the D-4 champion, hoped for a better result.

"Andrew couldn't get things started today," Raiders coach Dave Quintal said. "We should be good in the next few years with our young team and the players coming in. There's always a positive to a negative."

Modesto Metro Conference champion Johansen labored on the greens and placed 10th with a 425. Freshman Daniel Pena led the Vikings with an 80.

"For some reason, we didn't play as well as we're capable," coach Dan Boer said. "We weren't ready for the fast greens."

Enochs, topped by Timothy Yang's 77, placed 13th, two strokes better than Ripon in 14th. Ripon Christian, the D-6 champion, was 15th.

Hilmar's promising sophomore Landon Azevedo bounced back from a bogey-bogey-bogey start and pointed forward after his 2-over 74. Billy Kiriluk of Sonora had a 75, followed by Hayden Sparks of Turlock with a 77 and Beyer junior Matt Mensinger with a 79.

The scores vaulted slightly higher than last year despite pleasant conditions. The medalist was Corey Pereira of Ponderosa with a 4-under 68. He leads the top three teams, featuring champion Jesuit, and four individuals to NorCals.

No one worked harder for his berth, however, than Brink.

Bee staff writer Ron Agostini can be reached at ragostini@modbee.com or (209) 578-2302. Follow Ron via Twitter @modbeesports.

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