TURLOCK — The Merced High and Turlock golf teams continued their intense rivalry Monday, and the difference between the teams remains scant.
On Monday, the margin was one stroke.
Both Central California Conference powers, basking in 82-degree perfection at Turlock Country Club, showed their season-long form at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 South Tournament.
Merced, led by sophomore Netanya Hernandez's 86, placed third with a 494, one stroke behind runner-up Turlock. Both teams will extend their matchup to the Section Masters next week at The Reserve at Spanos Park in Stockton.
Consider: After two CCC duals, a midseason tournament and the CCC finals, Turlock's total margin is only eight strokes better than Merced. The Bulldogs have won 10 CCC titles in a row, though Merced owns dual wins over them both this season and in 2012.
"There is passion about golf with both teams, which is exciting," Merced coach Scott Winton said.
The Bears will make their second consecutive trip to the Masters, thanks in part to Hernandez. Her birdie at the par-5 17th solidified a round she termed decent but not great. Hernandez's round was the third-lowest in the field of 78.
"It bothers us that we came so close to beating them (Turlock) this year," she said. "I've got two years left."
Merced and Turlock will join divisional champion Lodi, led by senior and medalist Victoria Reiner (80), at The Reserve. Among the six individual qualifiers was Buhach Colony senior Heather Parker, who shot 90.
"My putting was bad," said Parker, the medalist during the CCC tournament last week. "I wasn't ready for the fast greens."
Parker will advance to Masters for the second consecutive year.
Modesto Bee staff writer Ron Agostini can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2302. Follow Ron via Twitter, @modbeesports.