State

Division V playoff decides final berth for Section Masters Tournament

ANGELS CAMP -- It wasn't Presli Pilati's best round of golf, but it certainly will go down as one of the memorable moments for the Escalon High sophomore.

Sitting on the fringe of No. 17, a good 40 feet from the hole and with some of the Sac-Joaquin Section's top golfers looking on, Pilati calmly swung her putter and watched the ball roll across the green and into the hole.

"I was having a bad day, so I tried to forget everything else and focus on this one shot," said Pilati, who shot 96 in Monday's Division V Tournament. "I was trying to get close, figuring I could follow it up with a short putt. I'm normally not a good putter, so that was something I really enjoyed."

What seemed like a footnote to a disappointing round took on significance when Pilati tied two others for the final berth in the Section Masters Tournament.

The sudden-death playoff lasted two holes: Hughson's Erica Ballard hit her second shot on No. 1 out of bounds and was done, then Pilati drove her tee shot on No. 2 into the oak trees and dense brush and never recovered.

Central Catholic's Giovanna Pecchenino, meanwhile, stayed in the fairway to earn the final berth and will join teammate Jessica Ferlmann next Monday at The Reserve at Spanos Park in Stockton.

Bret Harte's team will be there, too, after beating Pilati and the Cougars by one stroke, 524-525. Leading the Bullfrogs was medalist Kirsten Locke, who won by nine strokes at 5-over 77.

Familiarity played a role in the win: The tournament was at Greenhorn Creek Resort, the Bullfrogs' home course.

"It's certainly an advantage, because you know where the trouble spots are and you've got the confidence that comes with being on familiar ground," said Locke, a senior whose older sister, Caitlin, was co-medalist here two years ago.

Locke, who had 13 pars and five bogeys, was in the same foursome with Pilati and Ferlmann.

"It was nice knowing I had a big lead," Locke said. "It always gives you confidence to know you've got the lead. I didn't feel I was hitting the ball that solid, so I really focused on my putts. I must have made nine or 10 par putts from about four or five feet."

Even Locke was impressed by the putt from Pilati, whose team tied Bret Harte for the Valley Foothill League North Division title.

"On the fringe like she was, it was going to be a downhill putt and break right," Locke explained. "She got real good speed on it. It was a nice putt."

Bee staff writer Richard T. Estrada can be reached at restrada@modbee.com or 578-2300.

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