Gonsalves’ golf season ends on disappointing note

Ethan Gonsalves’ high school golf career ended in heart-breaking fashion Monday when the Denair senior – thinking his 1-over-par 73 was too high – left the course early and missed a chance to compete in a playoff.

Playing at The Reserve at Spanos Park in Stockton, Gonsalves got off to a fast start in the Sac-Joaquin Masters Tournament. He was 3 under par when he stepped to the tee on No. 13 – a 151-yard par-3 where he made his first hole-in-one during a practice round Friday.

Unfortunately, Gonsalves made a bogey Monday, then followed that with another bogey at the par-4 14th and a double-bogey 5 at the short par-3 15th.

Just like that, he was 1-over for the day and in danger of missing out on one of the four individual qualifying spots into next week’s NorCal Championship at Berkeley Country Club.

Gonsalves rebounded on the par-5th 16th, crushing a drive and then knocking his second shot to within 5 feet for a possible eagle. He missed the putt, but tapped in for a birdie, leaving him at even par with two holes to play.

He made a bogey and a par to finish at 73, then began to wait in the clubhouse. Gonsalves followed the app on his phone to keep track of other players’ scores. Only the top three teams – plus the four players with the lowest scores who aren’t from those schools – would advance.

“He was winning the tournament, then had a couple of bad holes,” said Denair coach Greg Gaudio. “He was upset because the holes he didn’t do well on were easy holes he typically would do well on.”

Gonsalves and Gaudio stayed for about 20 minutes, but Gaudio ultimately decided that it was best for Gonsalves that they leave the course. They drove to a nearby shopping center just to decompress.

Then, Gonsalves’ phone rang and he was told he was in a three-way playoff. They quickly drove back to the course. 

“it was two minutes away,” said Gaudio, who dropped Gonsalves off in the parking lot, not far from the first tee, where the playoff began. But by the time he got there, the two other players had already teed off and were walking down the fairway.

Gonsalves was too late and was disqualified.

The shocking end to his remarkable season does nothing to diminish Gonsalves’ accomplishments this year. He was the Southern League MVP and captured his second straight Section Small Schools individual championship. Earlier this spring, he signed a letter of intent to play golf at Cal State, Stanislaus in college.

“I just feel it was a real honor to watch this young man for four years turn into a great golfer,” Gaudio said. “I was lucky to watch his growth in the sport. This was definitely a lesson learned. I’m sure today he’s starting to shake it off.”

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