Shawnee Martinez scored two holes-in-one almost before she lost her baby teeth. She's now 15, a determined shotmaker who doesn't stress about what others think.
"Everybody expects something different from me," she said. "My parents just want me to have fun and try my hardest, and everybody else expects me to shoot 70."
Not really, but Martinez, an incoming sophomore at Enochs High, appears to be on schedule in golf. She became only the third back-to-back champion among the girls in the 57-year history of the Bumgardner Junior Memorial on Tuesday following back-to-back rounds of 76 at Del Rio Country Club.
Her sister Marina won the Bumgardner in 2006, which means Del Rio's ageless oak tree near the clubhouse — the traditional gathering place for post-tournament awards — is the newest venue for Martinez family reunions.
Later in the day, 17-year-old Arbuckle product Ben Geyer — the son of former Cal State Stanislaus All-American Andy Geyer — turned a 2-birdie, 1-bogey 71 into the overall boys title. Geyer totaled an impressive 4-under-par 140 (69-71), three better than 16-17 champion Fredrik Palmer of Modesto (71-72--143) in his final Bumgardner appearance.
If it's any consolation to Palmer, the Modesto High graduate hoping to extend his golf career as a walk-on at UC San Diego, his 143 would have taken the top award at the Bumgardner the last two years.
"One under par is a great score, but Ben played just phenomenal both days," Palmer said. "It's just golf."
Martinez, the San Francisco City Junior overall winner earlier this month, has gained 15 yards off the tee and improved her putting since her first Bumgardner victory. She defended her title by doing two things: 1, A closing 1-under 35 (on Del Rio's Oak nine) and, 2. Not falling apart after a triple-bogey 7 on her third hole.
Her 7-iron approach at the par-4 was struck solid but found the water hazard near the green. That led to a 3-putt triple, and the knowledge that her margin for error had vanished.
"It was a blow-up hole. I actually hit that 7-iron good. I didn't swing hard enough," Martinez said. "I had time to recover, and I did."
Birdies on the Oak nine's first and fifth, the latter after she nearly holed one with that same 7-iron, boosted her momentum. She added to her margin by draining a downhill 8-footer for par on her final hole.
Martinez topped Alexandra Wong of San Francisco, a 12-14 age-group entry, by three strokes. Clovis West senior Asia Adell (81-75--156) seized the 15-17 title, seven strokes ahead of Johansen High senior Christine Uhalde (79-83--162), who placed fourth.
Meanwhile, Geyer dominated the boys division with an explosive game which produced six birdies Monday and less spectacular — but still successful — results Tuesday.
Unlike virtually every other entry in the field of 185, Geyer takes almost no time over the ball. He gives one quick look and — whack! — it's gone. Amazingly, he didn't slump during a front nine that took three hours to complete.
"Normally, I don't play well on slow days," he said. "I was happy with myself today because of that."
Geyer strung together birdies on his fifth and sixth holes (on the Bluff nine), bogeyed the seventh and parred home. He didn't smile until he sank par putts on the final two greens.
"Yesterday came easy for me. Today I had to fight for it," said Geyer, a graduate of Pierce High and soon to be a freshman at St. Mary's in Moraga. "I really could have made 10 birdies yesterday, but today I didn't hit my irons as good. It feels good to win."
Geyer, who also won the Bing Maloney in Sacramento, credits Andy — a standout at Stanislaus two decades ago — for his golf talent. Still, his red shirt stood for St. Mary's, not his dad's Warriors.
"He doesn't force anything on me. It's what I like about him. He's not high-pressure," Ben said. "He's taught me how to play and how to think on the course."
Other age-group winners were Jonathan De Los Reyes of Antioch (boys 14-15) Owen Lin of San Jose (boys 12-13).
The Bumgardner, one of the top events on the Junior Golf Association of Northern California calendar, enjoyed a spike in turnout this year. Several players withdrew after Monday's steamy first round, but Tuesday brought a cooling breeze.
It also made Martinez an entry in tournament history. She joins a list of back-to-back winners which includes Harold Wells (1953-54), Joan Pitcock (83-84), Kristen Krogsrud (89-90) and Matt Bettencourt (91-92). She's also only the second Modesto champion since Dana Arnold in 1987.
One final reward — Martinez's name once again is enrolled onto the perpetual Bumgardner trophy.
"I kind of remember when Marina won," she said.
Worry not, Shawnee. It's hard to keep track of all those family victories.
Bee staff writer Ron Agostini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2302.