FLEETWOOD – Coming into the last hole of the PIAA East Region golf championships Monday, Northwestern's Cole Miller knew that at 3-over par he was well inside the qualifying number to move on to states.
So with 230 yards left to a green that sat just over a pond, he decided there was no point in laying up.
Miller didn't make the green, but that shot was one of the few mistakes he made in shooting 5-over par 77 to finish tied for 12th and qualify for next week's PIAA Championships.
"Seeing that everyone was [scoring] a little higher," Miller said. "I figured why not go for it on the last hole."
He took a seven on the last hole, his only double bogey of the day. He made three birdies and six bogeys at regionals, which was held at Golden Oaks Golf Course in Fleetwood. His final-hole double-bogey was as much a result of a three-putt as the penalty stroke he took for hitting the approach shot in the water.
"I would have liked to putt a little better," Miller said. "My driver and my irons were pretty good. The putter let me down a little."
He made birdies on holes 4, 8 and 11. Bogeys on 5, 6 and 9 cancelled them out and kept Miller at even par through 11 holes. After a bogey on 12, he was right in contention for the win, but bogeys on 16 and 17 put him at 3-over par heading into the last hole.
He had hoped to shoot around even par and contend for the regional title, but his main goal was just to advance to next week.
"A win is always good to bring your confidence up," said Miller. "But getting through is biggest part of regionals."
A sophomore, Miller will play in his first state championship tournament next Monday. He earned his first trip to regionals last week by winning the District 11 title. Monday at Golden Oaks he was the only one of 10 District 11 players to finish in the top 26 and earn a spot at states.
Palmerton's Ben Andrews played in his second straight regional tournament. He shot 85, missing the cut for states by six strokes.
Two bad holes hurt the Palmerton senior.
He started his round on the sixth hole and was 4-over par when he triple bogeyed the 16th (his 10th hole of the round). He was only a few strokes off the state qualifying cut when a quadruple bogey on No. 3 put him at 14-over par for the day.
"He played well today," said Palmerton head coach Dave Lavin. "A couple things didn't go his way. That stuff happens."
Andrews, who has had a very successful four-year high school career, birdied the last hole he played as a Blue Bomber, making a four on the par-5 fifth hole at Golden Oaks to finish out his career.
"He stepped in as a freshman on a really good team and did a great job all the way through," Lavin said. "The last two years he was an unbelievable leader. It was really crucial to have a guy like Ben with a young team."
This year's regional field played in difficult, windy conditions and it showed in the scoring. Last year 35 players shot 77 or lower. This year only 27 players managed to break 80.
Last year, 10 players that shot 77 had to play off for one the berth into states. This year, four players that shot 79 played off for three berths to states.
Brandon Matthews of District 2's Pittston Area won the boys East Regional title at two-under par 70. He beat Montgomery's Kyle Deisher by one stroke.
Pennsbury's Jackie Rogowicz won the girls title, shooting 2-over par to beat Council Rock North's Erica Herr by two strokes.