FORT MYERS -- The Saint Stephen's boys golf team won its first region championship since 2002, and Bradenton Christian's top golfer, Philip Knowles, won the individual title by six strokes on a great day for area golfers Tuesday at the Class 1A-Region 6 tournament at Verandah Golf Club in Fort Myers.
Knowles shot a 7-under-par 65, the best round in school history, to earn a trip to the state tournament for the third consecutive year. The senior also won a district title last week at Bent Tree Country Club in Sarasota.
"Philip had an awesome day," BCS head coach Joel Van Ryn said. "Even with a little bad weather that came through, he played great."
Knowles hit 14 of 18 greens but said he missed a couple of opportunities. He parred a couple of short par 5s, he said.
"My parents asked me how I thought I played, and I said 'eh.' It's a completely honest answer," Knowles said. "I didn't feel like I played that incredibly well. My putter bailed me out today."
The top two teams and top two individuals not on qualifying teams moved on to state. The Class 1A state tournament will be held Nov. 4-5 at Mission Inn Resort and Club at Howey-in-the-Hills.
The Falcons shot a team score of 302, eight shots better than second-place Sarasota Christian, to advance to state for the first time since 2012, when they finished second at region. Sarasota Christian defeated Saint Stephen's to win last week's district tournament.
Jack Cen led Saint Stephen's with a 73. Christopher Pollen added a 75, and Ryan Kinkead and David Gao had 77s.
"The guys played great," Saint Stephen's head coach Matt Primrose said. "Jack Cen's been steady all year, right around par. Everybody was right where they've been all year."
The Panthers just missed a state berth as a team, shooting a 311 to finish three shots behind the Blazers. BCS junior Landry Miller fired a 73, finishing fourth in the individual standings.
Knowles hopes Tuesday's round will set him up for a run at a state title. He finished seventh as a sophomore but struggled a bit last season, tying for 25th.
His postseason run has redeemed a high school season that didn't quite live up to his expectations. Knowles enjoyed an outstanding summer during which he qualifed for the U.S. Amateur.
"I had kind of a high at the end of my summer," Knowles said. "I felt like I hadn't been playing to my ability, then came up short at the (Donald) Ross and the county, it seemed anti-climactic.
"I've been wanting to get back to state after not playing well last year."
CLASS 2A-REGION 7 -- Area players failed to advance out of the tournament at Port Charlotte Golf Club.
The Palmetto boys shot a team score of 373. Naples won with a 307, and Naples Barron Collier also advanced to the state tournament with a 312. Chase Bafia lead the Tigers with an 86, and Josh Whitson and Kohl Walsh had 89s.
Southeast's Will Kelly, who qualified as an individual, fired a 78. Teammate Matt Everhart had a 91.