AGOSTINI: Experience serves City Golf champ Arellano well

June 11, 2013 

Laura Arellano rememberedwhat happened to her one year ago at the Modesto City Golf Championship.

Lying 2 only 100 yards from the flagstick at Dryden Park's 18th hole. Taking five from there for a painful double bogey. Losing by a stroke to Katy (Joslin) Bertucci.

"The day was hot. I kind of blanked out on the 18th green," Arellano said.

A good memory works only if you put it to positive use. Arellano did exactly that with a solid finish Sunday, and this time it paid off with a sweet victory in the 31st Modesto City.

Arellano, a graduate of Downey, tied for eighth with pro-junior partner Kirk Triplett last summer at The Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach. The First Tee of Central Valley student was interviewed by The Golf Channel that weekend while Triplett won the Champions Tour event.

That experience paid off for Arellano, the former cart-runner on the local municipal courses. She played for San Joaquin Delta this year but — due to a family-dictated move to Redwood City — will transfer this year to Cañada College.

One year after her disappointing finish in the City, Arellano was better prepared. For starters, she carried plenty of water, which turned out to be very important given the 104-degree heat Saturday. It also helped that she drained a tough 30-yard pitch for birdie at Dryden Park's par-3 ninth.

The result was a 36-hole score of 77-78—150 to turn back former City winners Bertucci and Jane Findarle. The reward was much sweeter than the $175 gift certificate and small trophy.

"I'm very excited to win," Arellano said. "I think I'm getting better and better."

She's still working on her game while she puts in the hours at Shoreline Golf Links in Mountain View.

OPEN — Beyer High graduate Matt Bettencourt will tee it up for the fourth time in the U.S. Open this week at Merion. Bettencourt, the 2010 Reno-Tahoe Open champion, tied for 10th at the 2009 Open, tied for 70th in 2010 and missed the cut last year at the Olympic Club.

His penchant for stepping up on tough courses might work for him this week. He earned his way into the field the hard way by surviving a three-for-one playoff for the eighth and final qualifying spot last week at Woodmont CC in suburban Washington, D.C.

Bettencourt, 38, defeated Harold Varner III and Sam Saunders — the latter better known as Arnold Palmer's grandson — after the completion of 36 holes. Saunders stabbed at a five-inch putt and missed it earlier in the day.

"I was very blessed to just get the opportunity to be in a playoff," Bettencourt, a resident of Spartanburg, S.C., told the USGA. "I felt as if I had nine lives and was finally able to capitalize on one of them."

Bettencourt has struggled with asthma problems in recent years but thinks he has it under control.

THE SHAG BAG — Bertucci (82-77—159) was expecting son Matteo while she won the City last year. Today, Matteo is 6½ months old. ... Returning to the City after a three-year absence was six-time women's champion Marsha Lutz of Walnut Creek. ... Modesto's Pete Canevari (70-74—144), 55, placed third in his attempt to become the oldest City champion. He won it in 2007. The oldest winner was Huntington Beach's Jeff Thomas, who annexed his third City title in 2011 when he was 52. ...

Former Cal State Stanislaus star Erick Justesen reached the Open's Sectional, named "Golf's Longest Day," and shot 77-69 at Big Canyon CC and Newport Beach CC. Also in the Sectional was Turlock High graduate Sam Smith, who recorded 73 and 74 at Hawks Ridge in Ball Ground, Ga. Smith wrapped up his career at USC earlier this month. ...

Golf rounds ticked upward 2.6 percent in California in April, according to PGA PerformanceTrak, a gold date collection and benchmarking service from the PGA of America.

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

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