Playing district championship golf can be taxing mentally and physically.
Then add to that a 24-hour weather delay and a sudden death playoff.
Your palms might be starting to sweat just by reading the first two paragraphs of this story right?
Well, that was exactly the case on Monday and Tuesday at the Blue Ridge Country Club for TIMES NEWS area golfers Cole Miller and Mike Weinert. Northwestern's Miller and Tamaqua's Weinert both shot a 73, which is one over par at Blue Ridge Country Club, forcing a playoff at hole number 10 for the District 11 Class AA crown.
A gallery of about 50-75 spectators stuck around to watch the two battle it out on the playoff hole. When the fall leaves settled, it was the Tigers' Cole Miller who captured the District 11 title.
Weinert missed an uphill putt for a birdie that he barely misguided and Miller tapped in soon after for birdie to seal the victory. Miller clobbered the ball off the tee with a three wood to the very edge of the green and then chipped it beautifully to within three feet of the cup. That shot set him up for the win and he easily tapped in his third shot to claim his second District 11 Championship and first in Class AA.
This marked the second consecutive season that Miller was in a sudden death playoff for the district title, losing last season to Collin Hagenbuch from Wilson.
"The playoff today brought up the past and some definite bad memories from last year," said Miller. "Today though, I was able to overcome that feeling and pull through for the win. Truthfully, anytime you have to come back to the course after a delay like we had yesterday, it's a challenging task.
"Especially, if you have your "A" game that day and then you have to try and bring that same game back, it's just a tough thing to do. You just have to do your best to regather your thoughts and go out there and attack the course."
That's exactly what both Weinert and Miller did.
Miller was the favorite heading into play on Monday with his dominate off-season and regular season play. Weinert on the other was a pleasant surprise after shooting an 81 at Mahoning Valley last Monday. The adage "that's why they play game" definitely proved to be true on Tuesday at Blue Ridge and the Raiders' Weinert was the reason why. The Tamaqua senior also expressed that it wasn't easy bringing back his top golf game to BRCC after the 24 hour delay.
"I'm not going to lie, there is a lot of thoughts that go through your mind in a delay like that," said Weinert. "It's tough to come back to the way you were playing. I was in the zone there on the first day and when we walked off the course I knew it was going to be tough to come back and play as well as I was. I was just fortunate to handle it well and play well. To be honest, I'm glad it happened because it made me go through something I've never gone through before. This whole experience I believe made me a better golfer mentally."
It's evident both golfers handled the immense pressures that the district championship had to offer over the last few days.
However, Miller like he has done for most of his career, came through when the prize was on the line.
"Blue Ridge is my home course and I knew once they said we were going to the 10th hole I was going to be in good shape," said Miller. I've always been able to strike the ball well from the tee there. Right from the start, I was thinking go for the green, maybe a chip shot, and then birdie the hole. I just committed to the shot and I wanted to get right around the green and I was fortunate to do that."
Miller and Weinert will now move on to regionals on Tuesday at Golden Oaks Golf Course in Fleetwood. Miller will be looking to qualify for states once again, while Weinert, who missed the cut by two strokes last year, is trying to make his first appearance.
Other TIMES NEWS area golfers that qualified for districts, but did not not qualify for regionals were Ryan Adamonis (Pleasant Valley, AAA, 81), Nick Vecillio (Northwestern, AA, 91), Mark Postupack (Marian, AA, withdraw), and Albert McFadden (Marian, AA, withdraw).
District 11 AA Qualifiers
1. 73 - Cole Miller, Northwestern Lehigh (Champion)
2. 73 - Michael Weinert, Tamaqua
3. 79 - Collin Hagenbuch, Wilson
4. 81 - Erik Ridley Allentown, Central Catholic
5. 81 - Ryan Krechel, Notre Dame East Stroudsburg
6. 83 - Tim Wolak, Moravian Academy
91 - Nick Vecillio, Northwestern
WD - Albert McFadden, Marian
WD - Mark Postupack, Marian
District 11 AAA Qualifiers
1. 75 - Grant Schumaker, Emmaus (Champion)
2. 75 - Chad Hess, Parkland
3. 77 - Bret Howey, Nazareth
4. 77 - Nick Maff, Bethlehem Catholic
5. 78 - Kevin Kunkle, Northampton
6. 79 - Kevin Zakszeski, Liberty
81 - Ryan Adamonis, Pleasant Valley