Antioch's Grant Smith posted a season-best 76 in the Class 2A Vernon Hills boys golf regional on Tuesday at White Deer Run Golf Club in Vernon Hills.
Smith ended in a first-place tie with Richmond-Burton's Jordan Hahn as both were 4-over-par on the 6,460-yard course after 18 holes.
A playoff hole was needed to decide the outcome, and both players were looking at long birdie putts. Smith had 17-footer, while Hahn was about 15 feet away on the 375-yard 10th hole.
Smith's putt caught the edge of the cup but didn't go down, while Hahn drained his to take top honors.
"I was hoping that I wouldn't have to go for a playoff," Smith said. "We both hit good drives and second shots (on the playoff hole). He just made the birdie. I had mine just lip out.
"It was disappointing, I thought I read it right and it just didn't fall. I had a good stroke at it."
Smith has reached the sectionals the last two years and so he knows what to expect from postseason golf.
"There's definitely more pressure coming into regionals at this time of year," he said. "You just have to go out and do it."
Vernon Hills won its own regional with a team total of 316, ahead of Richmond-Burton (326) and Grayslake Central (340). Those three teams qualified for next Monday's Belvidere North sectional at Timberpointe Golf Course in Poplar Grove.
Russell Hutson led the Cougars with a 77, Chris Edwards and Connor Dickman each had 79s and Eric Swanson added an 81.
Hutson had a lesson on the range from one of the teaching instructors Kiel Alderink before the start of the regional.
"We just worked on my swing because I've been inconsistent, shooting in the high 80s," Hutson said. "First, he shortened my stance, because it was pretty wide. Basically, it was just putting more weight on my front foot.
"It usually doesn't work that quickly, but it worked today."
The next step for Vernon Hills is trying to earn another trip to state. The Cougars finished 10th last year.
"I think we're ready to go," Vernon Hills coach Shawn Healey said. "We've been looking forward to this regional all year. Now we get a chance to play in the sectional with the chance of getting the team back to state and do better than last year."
The Rams qualified in the third spot, finishing 2 shots better then Antioch (342). Taner Hermes led Grayslake Central with an 82, followed by Kyle Balling (84), Dan Choi (86) and Dan Reed (88).
Individuals moving on to the sectional are Eric Pascual of Antioch (81) Noah Radwanski of Marian Central (83), Mike Barry (85) of Lakes, Jackson Schultz (86), Ben Schnepf (86) and Peter Harding (87) of Marian Central, Jeremy Coffman (87) of Harvard, Matt Van Herzeele (88) of Marian Central and Zach Matejka (88) of Johnsburg.
"Windy conditions made it tough to handle," said Barry, a sophomore who will compete in his first sectional. "I had to play with higher and longer clubs."