ORWIGSBURG - It wasn't exactly like the first day of the Ryder Cup, but Monday's playing conditions for the District 11 golf qualifier were far from ideal.
A cold, steady rain fell over the Schuylkill County Country Club and its players for the majority of Monday morning, making for a long and difficult course. The conditions were so tough that the cut was pushed all the way up to 90 the highest ever cut for a district qualifier at Schuylkill County. The previous high was an 87 in 1999.
Three out of 11 local golfers who participated qualified. Northwestern freshmen Nick Vecellio and Cole Miller made the cut, along with Palmerton junior Ben Andrews.
Vecellio led the three qualifiers with an 85. Although he was one of the first groups in, his score looked good as soon as it went up on the board due to the conditions.
"I was a little nervous on the first couple of holes, but then I kind of settled in and made some pars," said Vecellio. "I got more comfortable and played some decent golf the rest of the way.
"The course was playing long, so it left for a lot of long approaches into the greens."
Miller, Vecellio's teammate, finished two strokes behind his fellow Tiger with an 87. Northwestern finished 10-4 and second in the Colonial League North division this season, but missed competing in the league playoffs by one win.
"It was definitely tough out there," said Miller, who finished fourth in the league tournament two weeks ago with a 78. "You could barely hold on to the club, but I think an 87 is okay for the conditions. I was just trying to play for par. If I made a mistake I tried to save bogey.
"It's been a ton of fun playing with Nick and the team this year. We have both learned a lot and hopefully we can contend at districts next week."
Andrews, the Bombers' No. 1 golfer this season, fired an 86 and qualified for district play for the second consecutive year. Palmerton dropped to 5-9 this year mainly because Dan Costenbader and Mike Englert graduated. Still, Andrews' 74 in the league tournament was good enough for second place.
"Today was brutal," admitted Andrews. "The weather really made everything tough. Hitting irons was definitely tough and the rough was really thick. I was doing alright, but then I lipped out putts on each of the last three holes.
"The whole day I was just making pars. I had one birdie, which was good, but then I was just trying to salvage pars."
The qualifier was supposed to be held at Shawnee but was changed to Schuylkill County due to last week's heavy rain. Last year the qualifier was held at Schuylkill County as well. Andrews shot a 75 last year, when the conditions were much better.
"I am pretty confident moving forward," Andrews said. "I have to play more this week. It has rained a lot so I wasn't out too much, but I should be good to go."
The low-man on the day was Emmaus' Kyle Wambold. He finished with a four-over 76.
The district championships will be held next Monday at Silver Creek Country Club in Hellertown.
Also participating from the area were: Matt Tucker (92) of Panther Valley, John Green (94) of Marian, Dean DiBonifazio (94) of Jim Thorpe, Stephen Reitz (98) of Northwestern, Eric Mason (104) Marian, Kory Lopata (105) of Panther Valley, Tyler Kunsman (106) of Northwestern, Alex Kaye (109) of Pleasant Valley, and Scott Nevenglosky (118) of Panther Valley.