On a lot of days, Cole Miller doesn't need to play his best golf to beat his peers.
Monday just happened to be one those days that he did need his best game.
Wilson's Collin Hagenbuch tied Miller at even par for the 27 hole District 11 Class Championship and then won with a par on the fourth hole of a playoff to take this year's title Monday at Shawnee Golf Resort.
Miller, a two-time Colonial League champ and the 2011 district champ, still moves on to next week's PIAA Eastern Regional Tournament, along with teammate Nick Vecellio and Tamaqua's Michael Weinert.
Vecellio placed fourth in Class AA with a 117. Weinert was fifth at 121.
Miller was a shot behind Hagenbuch with four holes to play. He pulled even with a birdie on the par 5 fifth hole of the final nine, then fell a shot back with a bogey on the par 3 sixth.
When Hagenbuch bogeyed the par 3 ninth, a playoff was needed to decide the winner.
Both players parred the first two playoff holes then matched sevens on the par 5 third hole. On the fourth hole of the playoff, Miller's drive faded right into the trees. He punched out and got to the green in three, but Hagenbuch put his approach shot on the green then two-putted from 10 feet. Miller's par putt came up about an inch short.
"I played pretty well for not having my A game," he said. "I think I managed my game fairly well around the course for not being too familiar with it."
He recovered from wayward drives with savvy shot-making around the greens.
"The short game sort of saved me because my tee ball was off today," Miller said. "I hit it in the trees a few times. I was able to save some strokes with the short game. The putter wasn't especially hot, but it kept me in play. My irons were solid."
Vecellio, a junior, heads to his first regional tournament after three straight trips to districts.
"This is the first time out of three tries," he said. "It means a lot. The goal for the season to make states and I had to get through (Monday). It's a big step in the right direction."
He shot 79 on the first 18 holes and 38 on the final nine. He offset 11 bogeys with 14 pars and a pair of birdies, avoiding any big numbers.
"I got off to a solid start," he said. "I had trouble on the second nine a little bit with a couple putts I missed. I finished pretty strong. On the last seven or eight holes I was even par."
After last week's district qualifier, Vecellio said he was fighting his swing. A session with his swing coach and some practice cured that problem. He was comfortable with his swing heading into Monday. His driver wasn't completely dialed in, but he played well in every other area.
"My chipping was outstanding today," he said. "I couldn't have chipped better. The irons were solid, but the driver was bad."
He's ready for the next round, Tuesday's regional at Golden Oaks Golf Course in Fleetwood. A field of 30 Class AA boys will play for 16 spots in the state championship tournament. Regionals is an 18-hole tournament. The state championship tournament is held a week later and is 36 holes over two days at Heritage Hills Golf Resort in York.
Weinert heads to his first regional tournament after his first appearance at districts. He shot 84 on his first 18 holes Monday and knew it was going to be close to the regional cut. A one-over par 37 on his final nine ensured his spot next week.
"I played all right," he said. "I drove the ball well. My medium and long irons were good. I had some trouble with my short game. That's where I struggled the most with putting and short chipping. All in all I feel like I had an OK day."
The Blue Raider junior made nine bogeys, a double bogey and a triple bogey, but he also had one birdie and 15 pars. While he knew he was near the cut line, he tried not to think about it.
"I was 13 over and I was kind of worried about if I was going to get in or not," he said. "I just try to play. If I make it, I make. If I don't, I don't. I practice very hard for it. I try not to think of the score."
Bethlehem Catholic freshman Nick Maff shot the day's lowest number, carding a four-under par 104 to earn the Class AAA title. The girls titles went to Freedom's Helen Hsu (Class AAA) and Allentown Central Catholic's Franca Hurtado (Class AA).
District 11 Golf Championships
Top 6 make regional; top 4 medal
1. Nick Maff (Bethlehem Catholic) 104, 2. Evan Notaro (Northampton) 107, 3. Chad Hess (Parkland) 110, 4. Kevin Kunkle (Northampton) 111, 5. Carter Test (Northampton) 114, 6. Bret Howey (Nazareth) 115.
1. Collin Hagenbuch (Wilson) *108 won on fourth playoff hole, 2. Cole Miller (Northwestern) 108, 3. Eamon Marone 113, 4. Nick Vecellio (Northwestern) 117, 5. Michael Weinert (Tamaqua) 121, 6. Kyle Buchman (Notre Dame GP) 123.
Top 3 earn medals
1. Helen Hsu (Freedom) 126, 2. Kelsey Patterson (Emmaus) 135, 3. Loran Pritchard (Whitehall) 139, 4. tie Kiran Signh (Bethlehem Catholic), Emily Unrue (Easton) 142.
1. Franca Hurtado (Central Catholic) 126, 2. Justin Paul (North Schuylkill) 134, 3. Emily Rodgers (Central Catholic) 162, 4. Samantha Firestone (Pen Argyl) 167.
Girls Regional qualifiers
Hsu, Patterson, Unrue.
Hurtado, Paul, Rodgers.