Four local golfers fail to advance to state tourney

RIPON -- Allyssa Pena lined up the final putt of her high school career.

The ball rolled true and dropped into the cup on the 420-yard par-5 No. 9 hole at Spring Creek Country Club. It was good for a birdie, a great score on one of the course's toughest holes.

"It was a good way to finish," said Pena, a Johansen High senior. "I'm happy with that final hole."

Pena and three other Stanislaus District golfers saw the season come to an end Monday at the CIF Northern California Girls Golf Championships. The top three teams and six individuals advance to the state tournament Nov. 15 at Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach.

The cut to qualify for the state tournament was 77. The closest local, Julie Shutler of Sierra, was five strokes shy.

Shutler, who will play for Sacramento State next year, shot a 9-over-par 82 to tie for 17th in the 89-player field. She had a 40 on her first nine and struggled with her swing throughout the day.

Bret Harte junior Kirsten Locke was 2 over par after her first nine, but her group was backed up by slower players on the front nine and she faded to an 84, tied for 22nd.

Pena opened the day on No. 10 and reversed the trend. She followed a 46 by playing the far more difficult front nine in 41 to finish with an 87, tied for 29th.

Turlock senior Emily Szabo was 5 over after her first nine but ended up shooting an 88, tied for 34th.

Pena knew it was going to take one of her better rounds to advance.

"I hit the ball pretty well," she said. "But even most of the nice hits, I'd get a bad bounce or I'd find the ball in a bad lie. You need some luck as much as anything out here, and I didn't have it."

Still, Pena was thrilled with her finish.

"After my first shot, I was less than 200 yards away," she said. "I figured, 'Why not? Let's go for it.' "

Her second shot landed just short of the treacherous uphill green, and she got up and down for the birdie.

"It wasn't a great round, but at least I finished well," she said.

Shutler had swing issues and scrambled all over the course.

"I didn't have any nerves, but you realize it's a lot bigger deal than any other high school tournament I'd been in," Shutler said. "Then I got out there, and nothing was really working as I'd hoped it would.

"It was just an ugly day."

Shutler has friends who are members at Spring Creek, so she has played there and had knowledge of the course.

"Still, I've never played particularly well out here," she said.

Locke, the lowest-scoring local at last week's Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament at Auburn Country Club (she shot a 76), was 2 over after nine holes.

"But my swing just went away from me after that. It was a tough day," Locke said. "As a junior, this gave me good experience. Hopefully, I'll be back next year."

St. Francis won the team title with a 402 total, 14 strokes better than Robert Louis Stevenson. Mina Harigae of Robert Louis Stevenson was the medalist with a 1-under 72.