RUSCOMBMANOR — Area golfers have had a tough enough time just making it to regional play, let alone advancing from there to the PIAA Individual Championships. But four of them did just that with good rounds at the Eastern Regional at Golden Oaks Golf Club on Tuesday and will compete for the state title next week.
Methacton's Brandon Vance and Kyle Vance both shot even-par 72 to tie for sixth place in the Class AAA boys competition and Spring-Ford's John Foley also moved on with a 74, good for a tie for 14th place, as the top 24 of 50 advanced to states.
Owen J. Roberts' Maddie Sager also qualified for state play by finishing in the top 12 Class AAA girls. She shot a 79 to place seventh. The top 12 of 25 advanced.
Both Vance brothers had a shot at the title as senior Brandon was 4-under with three holes to go and freshman Kyle was 3-under with five remaining. They ended up five strokes off the pace set by Bishop Shanahan's Kevin Connors. But that didn't take away the satisfaction of making it to the final 36 in the state, which will include 12 from the Western Regional.
"As long as I'm in, that's all that matters to me,' said Pioneer Athletic Conference champion Brandon Vance, who missed making it to states by a stroke last year after shooting an 80 on a windy day at regionals. "I'm definitely going for the win next week. I've got nothing to lose.'
"My goal the whole year was to go to states as a team and as an individual,' said District 1-AAA champ Kyle Vance, who will be playing along with his brother on the Methcton squad that won the district crown last week. "It's pretty cool.'
And while one Vance almost made it to states last year and the other had it as a goal last year, PAC-10 girls runner-up Sager hadn't really considered it.
"I didn't really expect to be here, but I didn't really give it much thought,' said the OJR sophomore. "I'm happy about it, obviously.
"I birdied the last hole, which was good. I was playing okay today. I thought my driving was good, and my putting. My irons were not good, kind of the same. They were better than the last tournament. It was an okay round ... whatever works.'
Brandon Vance had some tough luck with his putting.
"I was hitting my drives and my irons really well,' he said. "My putts weren't falling. They were right on the cup.'
And even though he had a triple bogey, a bogey, and a par on his last three holes, he still qualified for the next step by three strokes.
"You try to get to four under so you can have a blow-up hole if you need it,' he added.
Kyle Vance had a double bogey after going five under and then pars the rest of the way.
"Pretty much my whole game was going well,' he added. "I was hitting the ball in the fairways and my putting has been great the last few weeks.'
Spring-Ford's Matt Keim shot a 78, but missed the cut by three strokes. ... The last few weeks have been a continuation of Sager's improved play over the course of the season. ... "At the beginning of the season, I was not playing really well,' she added. "My handicap came down from a 12 to a five.' ... Erica Herr of Council Rock North won the girls title with a 71. ... The individual championship with be next Monday and Tuesday at Heritage Hills Golf Course in York and all competitors will play 18 holes each day. ... The team competition will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 23.