Will Brink didn’t need a playoff hole to qualify for the CIF State Golf Championships, but he did need a strong finish to earn his spot.
Fitting, being that nothing has come easily for East Union’s talented senior this postseason.
Brink birdied his final two holes of the Northern California Regional at Diablo Grande Resort Golf Club’s Ranch Course in Patterson and was one of five players tied for a ninth-place 2-over-74 on Monday. A 75 would have had him on the outside looking in.
The rangy lefty is among a group of nine individual qualifiers not part of the three advancing teams. De La Salle is the NorCal champion with a 373 and will be joined by Archbiship Mitty (382) and Stevenson (386) at state. Foothill’s Ryan Maund was individual low medalist with a 68.
Brink is the first East Union Lancer to reach the state tournament and first Mantecan to do so since former Manteca High standout Kevin Wentworth won it as a junior in 1986.
“It’s a big honor to be able to represent the school there. It’s what I’ve been striving for,” Brink said.
Once again it took some clutch shots for Brink to keep his final prep season alive. He advanced to last week’s Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament by winning a playoff in the SJS Division IV Tournament. Brink outlasted another opponent in a two-hole playoff at Masters to squeak into NorCals.
On Monday, he started off on hole 10 and finished the back nine 3-over and with no birdies. He was 4-over through 14 and broke even on 6 and 7.
Brink gave himself some hope with a birdie on the 376-yard par-4 eighth, and he was licking his chops walking up to the closing hole — a reachable 509-yard par-5.
“I knew I needed to get two (birdies) because a 7 o5 or 76 wasn’t going to make it. I was pretty fortunate that a 74 was good enough to qualify,” Brink said “I hit a good drive on 17 and got it up and down. The last one was a short par-5 birdie hole. I was pretty lucky to be able to end it on that hole.”
The state tournament is not until Wednesday, June 5 — well after Thursday’s graduation ceremony at East Union. It will be held at Quail Lodge and Golf Club in Carmel, giving Brink his first opportunity to play in one of the nation’s most famous and scenic regions for golf.
The experience itself, he said, will make for a pressure-free round.
“I’ve never played in any of the courses in Monterey so it’s going to be fun for me,” Brink said. “It’s kind of nice because you don’t have to be conservative about qualifying anymore, you just go out there, be aggressive and see how many birdies you can make. Usually a score in the mid-60s wins it, but I’m just going to be happy to be there.”