Turlock High sophomore Clark Van Gaalen's season came to an end Monday after a 3-over-par 74 at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament at Elkhorn Golf Club in Stockton, Calif. (Photo courtesy of Jonamar Jacinto).

"So annoying:" Area's best feel golf's frustration at Section Masters

Ron Agostini

STOCKTON – Monday at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Championship served as another reminder that golf sometimes is just another nasty four-letter word.

The game alternately teased, prodded, punished, rewarded and, for most, frustrated the fresh-faced athletes good enough to qualify for the section’s top-tier golf tournament.

“So annoying,” concluded Turlock sophomore Clark Van Gaalen, who felt it all.

A case in point was Ripon Christian senior Camdan Indelicato, who will soon take his advanced game to Stanislaus State on scholarship. Indelicato ended his day at Elkhorn with a 2-over-par 73 and missed a playoff for the final Northern California Regional berth by one maddening stroke.

Not tall but athletic, Indelicato showed off his talent with an eagle at the downwind par-5 11th.

He rocketed a 6-iron from 192 yards to kick-in range to thrust himself into contention.

But he played the final four holes in 3-over – a missed short putt for par at the par-4 15th and a double-bogey 6 at the 17th when his approach clipped a nearby tree.

“Other than one hole, I played pretty good,” Indelicato said. "Gave it a good run."

Van Gaalen, joined with Indelicato in one of the day’s featured foursomes, finished at 3-over 74. He flashed the major-league power that will make him a prized catch next month when college recruiters can knock on his door.

Problem was, he was rejected at Elkhorn by a game that refused to ignite. He managed only one birdie and hit 36 putts, many that lipped out or ran the cup’s edges, and was off-target several times off the tee. Over the weekend, those putts no doubt dropped during his rounds of 67 and 70 at Rancho Murieta’s North course for a victory at a Junior Tour of Northern California event.

Van Gaalen's 74 at Masters marked the only time he finished over par during the prep season.

Elkhorn, playing from the tips at 6,486 yards, can be tight in places, especially for Van Gaalen’s 300-yard-plus length off the tee. Consider the 329-yard 15th where he   drove pin-high left but against a fence. That bogey bled into another at the par-3 16th.

His Turlock team, which rolled to a Section D-II title last week at Swenson Park, entered Masters with momentum. The Bulldogs, coached by Jason Boswell, have won 16 league titles over 18 years. Van Gaalen’s 65 and Christian Maggard’s 71 last week signaled a team on the rise.

Turlock needed to be at its best, however, and that didn’t happen. Maggard, a freshman whose uncle is former Olympic shotputter and longtime Cal athletic director Dave Maggard, posted a 75.

The Bulldogs totaled 404 for sixth place among the 13 qualifying teams. Davis of Yolo County, the champion at 369, will advance to the regional next Monday at Berkeley Country Club along with runner-up Granite Bay (378) and third-place Jesuit (382).

The day’s best rounds were 69s turned in by Zachary Mate of Cosumnes Oaks and Ryan Calcagno of Rio Americano. Josh Leiker of Rocklin kept his season alive with a 71.  Jake Aberle of Lodi had a 72 and became the fourth NorCal individual qualifier by surviving a four-man playoff.

One of those in the playoff was Golden Valley senior Preston Castleton. His 72 featured four birdies but he missed the green at 16 and bogeyed the playoff hole.

“You’ve gotta keep it in front of you here,” Castleton said. “You have to put it in play.”

Ripon, led by Chad Flory with a 74,  ended a successful season in seventh place (411). Ripon Christian was 10th (424). Last week, Ripon captured the D-V title and RC won D-VI.

The Reserve at Spanos Park, the traditional home for Masters, was the host this week for the NCAA Regionals. That resulted in the prep tournament's switch to Elkhorn.