In Montana State Am debut, Johnston wins it
BUTTE, Mont. (July 21, 2018) — Ryggs Johnston has claimed the 101st Montana State Amateur Championship. Johnston of Libby, Mont., capped his run at Butte Country Club with a round of 3-under 67 for a 54-hole total of 13-under 197. Johnston finished eight shots clear of Joey Lovell at 5-under 205. Lovell, of Bozeman, closed with 67 in his final round to finish runner-up.

Johnston, who will be entering his senior year of high school, was competing in his first state amateur, but he is no stranger to trophy collecting. Johnston is a three-time high school state champion and has claimed a host of other junior titles both in and out of Montana.

Johnston entered the final round with a seven-shot cushion and played the front nine in 1-under par with his only birdie coming at No. 3. Johnston’s steady round picked up as he made three consecutive birdies on Nos. 12-14. Johnston’s only blemish on the scorecard for his final round was a bogey on No. 16 after driving through the green on his par-4 tee shot.

The tournament offered warm temperatures, mild wind and conditions that allowed for good scoring off of accurate approach shots. Butte Country Club features smaller, turtle-shaped greens, making for some challenging up-and-downs in the short game and sharp breaking putts. While many struggled, Johnston certainly did not have much trouble collecting 19 birdies and making only six bogeys over the three days.

Johnston will begin his senior year at Libby High School this fall and has committed to Arizona State for golf. While accurate birthdate data is not available for all 101 Amateur Champions, Johnston is likely the youngest champion.

Lovell made four birdies during his final round en route to his 67. Billings golfer and reigning Montana State Junior Champion Joey Moore placed third after shooting 71 on his final round, despite making four birdies. His 208 total was one better than Josh Hedge, also of Billings. Hedge, who won three-consecutive state amateurs from 2005-2007, shot 72 in his final round.

Tate Tatom of Big Sky and the Air Force Academy made seven birdies en route to 67 and a tie at 210 with Bozeman’s Chris Goldan who shot even-par 70.

Garrett Woodin of Laurel and MSU-Billings made six birdies in an even-par round of 70 and Billings’ Colton Hudson who’s back nine 31 gave him a 68 to tie Woodin at 211.

Rounding out the top ten was Payton Taylor of Hamilton, who closed with 67 for a 212 total and Sean Benson of Montana Tech and originally of Billings, who managed four consecutive birdies on holes 10-13, ending with 72 and 214 overall.

Defending champion Caleb Stetzner of Anaconda shot 70 and tied for 11th at 216 with Missoula’s Sean Ramsbacher.

Johnston and reigning Montana state mid-amateur champion, Joe Cielak of Libby brought home the Barnett Trophy for the low two-day, two-player score from the same club. Cielak and Johnston play at Cabinet View Golf Club in Libby.

ABOUT THE Montana State Amateur

54-hole stroke play championship run by the Montana State Golf Association. Must be a legal resident of Montana, a current member of the Montana State Golf Association, and have a maximum established handicap index of 12.0. Men's, senior and super senior championships.

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