MERCED -- Christine Uhalde stood tall as she closely watched her high tee shots land softly in the fairway. She seemed in control of everything -- herself, her golf ball and her future.
The Johansen High senior added another impressive line to her golf resume Monday by shooting a 2-over-par 74, good for medalist honors for the second straight year of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I South Championship.
Seventy-seven girls walked among the eucalyptus trees at Merced Golf & Country Club. None came within three strokes of Uhalde, who will formally sign next month to attend Fresno State on a full-ride scholarship.
"I was pretty consistent overall," she said afterward. "Toward the end, I was pretty nervous. I didn't want to mess up my round after all of that. I guess I pulled it off."
Uhalde was paired in the day's top group with two talented sophomores -- Modesto Metro Conference MVP Shawnee Martinez of Enochs and Layney Silva of St. Mary's. Silva bounced back from an opening double bogey for a 77 and second place, followed by Martinez in third with an 80.
Uhalde grinded through a rocky two-birdie-three-bogey front nine but stabilized on the incoming nine. She strung together eight straight pars, including and up-and-down from a bunker at the par-3 sixth (her 15th), and she rendered a closing three-putt bogey moot.
Meanwhile, Martinez needed a consoling hug from her mom after a rough outing. She triple-bogeyed without finding the water hazard at the par-3 fourth and also double-bogeyed the eighth (her 17th).
"I don't know what happened," she said. "It just wasn't my day."
Her spirits lifted, however, when Enochs crept past Turlock for the third and final team berth for next Monday's Section Masters Championship at The Reserve at Spanos Park. Lodi took home the coveted blue banner by edging St. Mary's by three swings, avenging a loss to the Golden Rams earlier this season.
"My heart is still pounding," Enochs coach Matt Doyle said. "I just told the girls that every shot counts and to take it seriously but have fun and enjoy yourself."
Six individuals also advanced, Turlock High senior Stephanie Hammell (92) and a surprised Summer Uhrik. The Modesto High senior annexed the final berth with a 93.
"When I putted out on my last hole, I thought, 'That's it for high school golf. I'm done,' " Uhrik said. "I remembered that you needed a score in the mid-80s to go on last year."
But on the day that it mattered, Uhrik, Uhalde and Enochs did just fine.
Bee staff writer Ron Agostini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2302.