ATWATER — For the Tracy High golf team’s Jake Pineo, a year made all the difference.
The 365 days since the last time Pineo played in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section South Delta Subsection tournament saw him turn from a freshman into a sophomore — and improve from a CIF-SJS Masters Tournament hopeful into a Masters tournament qualifier.
A year after shooting a bad front nine and “giving up” at Dryden Golf Course in Modesto, Pineo carded three bogies and a birdie — including a 40-foot putt to save par on the fourth hole — en route to a two-over par 74 at Atwater’s Rancho Del Rey Golf Club, good for third place overall out of 78 golfers and a spot in Monday’s Masters Tournament at Sierra View Country Club in Roseville.
“I was way more focused — I had a drive where I felt like I had to make it,” said Pineo, who will soon contact prospective colleges. “When I missed a green and had to get up and down, I got up and down; when I hit a green, I had no three-putts.”
“I felt like I was in a position where I had to qualify,” he added. “I just worked my butt off.”
Pineo became the first Bulldog golfer to qualify for the section tournament in Tracy coach Derek Solano’s six-year tenure — and he very nearly had company, as teammate Shane Conner shot a 78, a tie for his best 18-hole round but two strokes away from moving on.
Conner shot a 37 on the front nine, but completed the round with seven bogeys and two birdies on the back nine.
“It would have been real easy for me to do it this year — but Jake did it, and he’s going,” the junior said. “I still have next year.”
West, which sent Logan Goulding to sections last year, advanced to the 2007 subsection tournament as a team, but sophomore Phil Kim stood the best chance at extending the Wolf Pack’s season into sections with a five-over par 77.
Kim carded a pair of birdies but double-bogeyed the last hole.
“I was playing decent, I guess — I was trying to go and grind it out,” he said. “I made a couple mistakes on the last couple of holes, but I was solid until then.”
Brennen Ramey shot an 80 for the team’s next-best score, and Daniel Ojeda carded an 83. Brett Steele and Brandon Oliver shot 91s, and Matt Goddard shot a 93 as the Wolf Pack shot 425 as a team.
“It was a good season,” West assistant coach Steve Lopez said. “It’s not the way you want to end it, but at this level you’ve got to be on your A-game.”
All the San Joaquin Athletic Association individual subsection representatives, save one, were Bulldogs. Dallas Lopez shot an 89, and Kirk Leopoldo carded a 91. Joey Sefcik added a 92.
“I’m real proud of all our guys,” Solano said. “To have five golfers go on (to subsections) is as close as you can get to getting the whole team to move on.”
Pineo will tee off at 10 a.m. Monday in Roseville.
Above, Jake Pineo takes a rip with an approach shot. Below, West High’s Brett Steele pokes a recovery shot from around an uncooperative tree. Photo by Chris Roberts/Tracy Press
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