ON THE COURSE: Will Brink averaged 35 strokes per round over his nine-hole matches and was named the MVP of the Valley Oak League for the second time. It was his tough-minded performance during the postseason, however, that lifted him into the elite.
Brink again performed his version of "brinkmanship" by surviving playoffs at both the Section Divisionals and Section Masters to advance. The lefty became the Stanislaus District's only player to reach the NorCal Championships and the State, the latter where he finished in a tie for 19th (a 74 at Quail Lodge in Carmel Valley) against a field of 54. "An official who followed his group said Will's composure never changed through good and bad. That's why he did so well in playoffs," East Union coach Dennis Wells said.
Indeed, Brink's uncanny 4-0 career record in playoffs stands as a testament to his steadiness and commitment under pressure, the biggest reasons why he's the only player in EU's distinguished golf history to reach state. "I owe a lot of that to my experiences in junior golf," he said, in reference to his three junior-golf tournament victories last summer. "I received a lot of great experience. I got a little longer and my ball-striking improved a little, but it was just picking up all that experience that helped me."
OFF THE COURSE: Will and older brother Jay, a recent graduate of the University of the Pacific, combined for four MVP honors in the VOL. Both the brothers and the rest of the Brink family dealt with tragedy in the death of their father seven years ago. "I was lucky to have him," Will said. "He was my role model and he introduced us to every sport, including golf." Perhaps the father's lasting legacy is the Jay Brink Leadership Award, given each year to the East Union player who demonstrates the best leadership and character. Will received the award this season.
LOOKING AHEAD: Brink will continue his golf career at UC Davis, where he will display his improving game. "I don't know what to expect, other than to try to shoot the lowest numbers so I can get in the tournaments," he said.
QUOTABLE: "The biggest thing is to just get in them (the playoffs) to give yourself a chance. You're still nervous, but it's more excitement than nerves. And the more times you go through it, the more comfortable you get."