For Sierra golf coach Jeff Williams, a Valley Oak League victory never felt so unsettling.
The Timberwolves edged crosstown rival Manteca on Thursday afternoon, but the manner in which they won the match will drive Williams’ tutelage for the next few weeks.
The box score suggests Sierra and Manteca left Manteca Park Golf Course locked in a stalemate: 244-244. But even in a gentleman’s sport like golf, there can be no ties.
Someone has to win, and on Thursday the victor was determined by the throw-out scores. Joey Guinta’s 57 was three strokes better than Manteca’s highest scorer, securing the win for the Timberwolves.
Afterward, Williams wasn’t in much of a celebratory mood. He has other plans for a group playing 20 strokes above its potential.
“We’ll go back to square one and start over again,” Williams said. “I’ll be out there watching them play.
“A lot of it is mental. Golf is all about the mental mistakes. Both teams are just not there yet. There are little things you can do to improve your score.
Williams will be careful not to tinker much with Matt Rose’s swing.
Or his psyche.
The sophomore shot a 5-over-par 42 to earn medalist honors.
“Matt did a great job for us. This was a good round for him,” Williams said. “He’s starting to learn the game. He’s starting to understand what he needs to do.
“He played consistent, which is good. That’s the way everybody needs to play. We’ll get there.”
Chris Schmitz was the only other Sierra player to record a sub-50 card, firing a 46.
Blake Settlemoir shot a 53, Alex Orr 55 and Essley Green 57 to round out Sierra’s scoring.
Manteca was led from the bottom of its ladder, a calculated move by head coach David Fontanilla.
His rankings are constantly in flux, because they’re based on performances from the last match.
One match after posting the highest scores on the team, Ray Tinnin and Justin Morris – Manteca’s No. 4 and 5 golfers – went low with matching 45s.
Davey Tolbert turned in a 47, while Kyle Howard and Brandon Ramirez -- Manteca’s top-seeded players – stomped into the clubhouse with a 53 and 54, respectively.
“He’s trying to get his team to compete. What he’s doing, which is a good idea, is whoever shoots the best match before becomes the No. 1. That’s the way he’s been doing it,” Williams said.
“Obviously, Justin and Ryan shot much better than the last match. Golf is a funny sport like that.”
In the end, the only scores that mattered were the ones so often discarded at the end of a match – the throw-outs.
Guinta’s scorecard was neither overly impressive or clean, but his final number was smaller than his counterpart’s.
“Our kids are getting there but still not playing to the best of their ability,” Williams said. “We should be right around 224. We’re in a slump right now. We have to start playing better golf. It’s just one of those stages in a season.”