Golf often is transformed into roulette during Local Qualifying for the United States Open.
Three Modestans were involved in free-for-all playoffs for the final available berth at their respective local sites. The reward: a trip to Sectional Qualifying, the second step on the road to the national championship.
In playoffs like these, one requires a steady hand and, in many cases, a nod from the golf gods.
Marc Peterson and Marina Martinez, two young professionals, advanced. Amateur Patrick Burda did not. All three returned as better players for the experience.
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Here's a site-by-site look at what happened:
HALF MOON BAY -- Eighteen berths were available for a field of 63 at Half Moon Bay's Old course, the only Northern California qualifying site for the Women's Open. Martinez, a 2007 graduate of Beyer High, shot an 81 and tied with six others for the final three slots.
The fun started at the par-4 16th, where Martinez nearly drove out-of-bounds earlier in the day. This time, Martinez ripped it straight and long and was first in the hole for par.
"That was a good feeling," she said. "There were two pars and two bogeys, so I was safe." The medalist at Half Moon Bay was USC freshman Lizette Salas of Azusa (76).
Martinez, the former Northern California high school champion, will travel to The Farms in Rancho Santa Fe for the 36-hole Sectional on Monday, June 2, her second chance at the Open. "I'm more confident this year. I feel I'm ready," she said.
She scrambled through the year after failing to qualify for the Futures Tour, a satellite circuit for young women pros, last November. Undaunted, she's paid her $500 entry fee to enter two Futures events, missing the cut in Texas but -- last weekend in Kansas -- finishing in a tie for 66th and earning her first check ($507).
CORDEVALLE -- Peterson, 40th on the money list as a rookie on the Canadian Tour, joined a quartet at 72 at the Robert Trent Jones Jr. layout in San Martin. Two would take the next step and two would go home.
Peterson survived along with San Jose's John Ellis, the winner of the Canadian Tour stop in Stockton. Earning medalist honors with a 66 was Stanford star Jordan Cox.
Peterson, the former Chico State second-team All-American, prepares for one of golf's longest days -- 36-hole Sectional Qualifying on Monday, June 9, at Lake Merced CC in Daly City.
DEL RIO -- The local country club, which staged the fifth and final NorCal Local qualifier Monday, lured a group of talented collegians. That said, mini-tour contestant J.T. Kohut, a 28-year-old former UCLA star who uses medication to control epilepsy, topped everyone with a 5-under-par 67.
Six advanced from a field of 82: Sonoma State's Jarin Todd (68), San Diego State's Matt Hoffenberg (68), James Hahn of Alameda (70), Stanford second-team All-American Rob Grube (70) and Yun-Gi (Kenny) Kim of UC Irvine (71).
Kim won a five-way playoff for the final slot, thanks to a 25-foot putt for birdie on the first playoff hole, Del Rio's short par-4 first (Oak). Burda, taking part in his first United States Golf Association-sanctioned event, was among the group in the playoff (he parred No. 1). He could have dodged the extra holes but he missed a 10-foot birdie putt at his 18th, the Oak's tough par-4 ninth.
"I kind of knew I needed that putt," he said. "In the playoff, you had to figure someone would birdie so I had to go for it."
THE SHAG BAG -- Ken Miller, owner of McHenry Golf Center, made golf his career after a childhood filled with junior competition. He gives back in many ways, among them his years of work for the Junior Golf Association of Northern California. He's again reaching out this summer via the Bucket-A-Week program at McHenry. Children from 5 to 17 are eligible for a free bucket of golf balls at McHenry each weekday from June through August. All they must do is register at the pro shop (no charge) to receive a membership card, then show the card each day. "I remember how golf kept me occupied as a kid," Miller said. "I just wanted to have something for the kids to do this summer, to take care of them." Call 523-5151 or visit mchenrygolfcenter.com. ...
The 26th Modesto City Championship will be contested June 7-8 at Dryden Park and Creekside. To sign up, call 571-5123. ... Pleasanton product Joel Kribel blazed to a 66 and was medalist in Open Local Qualifying at Del Paso CC in Sacramento. ... Opening on June 20 is Timilick Tahoe, the latest of the dramatic golf expansion in the Truckee area. The private club, featuring a gorgeous 7,000-yard course designed by Johnny Miller and John Harbottle III, is located in the Martis Valley between Northstar-at-Tahoe and downtown Truckee. Visit wwwtimilick.com. ...
HOLES-IN-ONE -- Jim Tocco, Riverbank, 112-yard 12th at Stevinson Ranch, pitching wedge. ... Gil Sandoval, Ripon, 157-yard 14th at Jack Tone Golf, Ripon, 6-iron. ... Mark Johnson, Kuna, Idaho, 125-yard seventh at Saddle Creek, Copperopolis, pitching wedge.
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