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There's a Fork in Marina's Course

Marina Martinez's future is approaching fast, and so are the questions:

Will she turn pro? Will she play junior college golf? What is the state of her powerful game?

In order, it's "maybe," "not sure" and "fair to good."

"I'm really excited but nervous at the same time," said Martinez, the Beyer High graduate who won the Northern California high school title last fall. "I know I've got to knock out those double bogeys."

Martinez has displayed her erratic but explosive game this month. She followed a 79 with a 4-under-par 68 and qualified for the match-play portion of the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship last week in Lexington, Ky. Her iron play faltered, however, during a 5-and-4 first-round loss to Brianna Do of Long Beach.

Back home on friendlier turf this week, Martinez ran away with the overall girls title of the 27th Spring Creek CC Junior Classic in Ripon. She lapped the field with her 72-70—142, 4 under women's par at Spring Creek.

A slow start Monday accelerated into a white-hot 31 on Spring Creek's back nine. Martinez eagled both par 5s, reaching the 13th and holing a 20-footer and then sinking a 35-foot chip at the 17th.

She'll interrupt her busy junior schedule next week by trying to qualify for the LPGA Tour's Safeway Classic, to be held Aug. 24-26 in Portland, Ore.

After this summer, Martinez's plan still is uncertain. She'll take classes this fall at Modesto Junior College, but she doesn't know if she'll compete for the women's golf team.

She's also thinking about turning pro, which might happen in November during qualifying for the Futures Tour, a prime women's developmental circuit.

How she's playing probably will decide the matter and, yes, erasing double bogeys from the scorecard would be a good idea.

JUNIOR CLASSIC — Johansen sophomore Daniel Covrig earned the overall boys honor at Spring Creek with a tour de force at the 500-yard par-5 first hole. Covrig, a Spring Creek member (77-68—145), accented Tuesday's round with a double-eagle 2 at the first, holing his second shot with a pitching wedge!

Later, in a playoff against Carlos Briones of San Lorenzo (72-73—145), Covrig reached No.1 with a gap-wedge second shot and drained an eight-foot putt for the victory. Briones rose from the 12-13 age division to nearly capture the overall title.

NOT SO RUNNING HORSE — Donald Trump has withdrawn his bid on the bankrupt Running Horse golf/real estate development west of Fresno. He told a Fresno radio talk show Monday he could bid again, however, as the project treads through bankruptcy.

Trump offered $10 million, then $25 million and finally $40 million, half up front and the other half paid through future home sales. But Mick Evans, who purchased the property and then filed for bankruptcy in April, said the words seldom heard by Trump:

No thanks.

Evans is taking major heat for Running Horse, which was supposed to stage a PGA Tour event this fall. Fresno city and county officials have supported Trump to save the troubled project. The owner rejected the offer probably for two reasons: 1. To protect investors who stood to lose a fortune if Trump took over, and 2. Some observers believe Running Horse is worth more than the amount proposed by Trump.

The Tour still would like to hold a tournament in Fresno in 2008, but time is running out. Construction must resume by September, because only two holes are completed.

THE SHAG BAG — Beyer High graduate Alyssa Ramont, who played golf for the Patriots, has earned a full-ride academic scholarship at Kansas State through The First Tee's leadership program. ... Timilick, a Johnny Miller-John Harbottle III design to open next summer near Truckee, is a private club that already has lured two high-profile members — Cal football coach Jeff Tedford and Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour. ...

The Publinx where Martinez took part was won by Monterey's Mina Harigae, who defeated Stefany Fleet of DeWitt, Mich., 4 and 3 in the final. Harigae, bound this fall for Duke, went 18 under for the week and will carry momentum into her upcoming appearances in the U.S. Junior Girls and U.S. Women's Amateur. ...

Congratulations to the four-man teams from Forebay in Santa Nella and Turlock CC, both of which qualified for the NCGA Zone Championship. Forebay scored a 40-under-par 248 (the best two net scores per hole) and won the Central Valley Zone title by two strokes over Turlock. Both will advance to the Zone event Aug. 20-21 at Poppy Hills. From Forebay are John Cook, David Cardoza, Patrick Ferreira and Chris Geuder. The Turlock team features Joe Morais, Leon Harkrader, Dan Avila and Greg Bradford.

HOLES-IN-ONE — Karl Fisher, Los Banos, 180-yard seventh at Stevinson Ranch, 4-iron. ... Bonnie Booker, Oakdale, 92-yard sixth at Oakdale CC, 7-iron. ... Harry Potthoff, Oakdale, 145-yard 16th at Oakdale, 7-iron. ... Jerry Sundling, Oakdale, 196-yard ninth at Oakdale, 3-iron. ... Mike Baker, Modesto, 71-yard third at Escalon, pitching wedge.

To comment, click on the link with this story at www.modbee.com. Bee sports columnist Ron Agostini can be reached at ragostini@modbee.com or 578-2302.

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