Golf’s a family affair

Angela-Rae Tolentino was explaining the friendly rivalry that exists between her and her two sisters on the golf course when she suddenly stopped and started to smile.

“Playing and practicing together makes us better, it’s not like ‘ooh, I beat you’,” Tolentino said with a laugh before pausing. “Actually, it kind of is. But not in a mean way.”

At Lincoln Park Golf Course, the affable banter will take a backseat to unabashed cheering, as Jari-Lee and Angela-Rae are both in the hunt for titles at the 79th San Francisco Golf Tournament. Jari-Lee carded a 77 Wednesday in the first-round of the two-day event and enters today tied for second in the 15- to-17 year-old division. Angela-Rae shot an 86 but is still in striking distance in the 12- to-14 year-old bracket, 10 shots out of the lead.

Eldest sister Rosalie-Wil Tolentino, 17, was considered to be one of the favorites for the female championship before she was forced to withdraw due to orientation at Santa Clara University, where she hopes to walk on in the fall. She still showed up at the course on Wednesday to cheer on her siblings.

<p>”We all love to play with each other and encourage each other,” Rosalie-Wil said. “There’s more pressure to do well as you get older, but we all still love the game and play for fun.

Rosalie-Wil is the most accomplished of the sisters on the course to date, as the recent St. Ignatius graduate tied for the West Catholic Athletic League individual title in the fall after carding a 78 at Poplar Creek.

She led the Wildcats to their fourth consecutive undefeated run through the WCAL in 2006 and this fall will pass on the leadership reigns to Jari-Lee, who will be entering her junior year at St. Ignatius. Meanwhile, Angela-Rae will be joining the team as a freshman.

“It’s sad because I’m so close with my older sister,” said Jari-Lee about Rosalie-Wil’s departure. “But the whole team is so close, and I’m really excited to experience that with [Angela-Rae] as well.”

The Tolentinos picked up the game nearly a decade ago when a family friend took them to hit at a driving range and showed enough promise to begin entering local junior tournaments the next year.

Neither dad Ricardo nor mom Josephine play golf, but both are supportive of a sport that has helped create a sisterly relationship in which one finishes a sentence that another has started and most nights end in a slumber party in Jari-Lee’s room.

And the Tolentinos are always the life of any foursome they’re a part of.

“I love playing with a group that opens up and getting along — that’s when it’s fun,” Jari-Lee Tolentino said.

“Me, too,” Rosalie-Wil said.

“Yeah, me too,” Angela-Rae added.

melliser@examiner.com

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