(By Nick Dietzen for MTN Sports)
MISSOULA – In one of the more hotly contested final rounds in recent years, Caleb Stetzner was able to turn his overnight lead into a State Amateur Championship.
Stetzner of Anaconda and a member of the MSU-Billings golf team shot a final round 71 (even par) to finish with a three-round 206 (-7) to win the 100th Montana State Amateur Tournament at Missoula Country Club. Stetzner made four birdies to go along with four bogeys.
“It means a lot,” Stetzner said following the win. “I put a lot of work in these last couple of years. Just to have it pay off feels pretty good.”
Stetzner who took a one-stroke lead into hole 16, was unable to extend his lead after Joey Moore bogeyed. Stetzner lipped out twice on hole 16 from close range making bogey. Stetzner was not rattled as he got up and down on the par 3 17th hole and again getting up and down on the par 5 18th hole, this time for birdie, to win by two shots over Sean Benson and Payton Taylor.
Benson and Taylor both shot one-under rounds of 70 on a day that saw only four competitors in the 130 player field break par.
Benson made a charge on the back nine holing out for eagle from 108 yards on hole 11and birdied hole 14 to put pressure on Stetzner. Trailing by one, his tee shot on 18 found the left tree line and was forced to punch out into a greenside bunker.
Stetzner calmly found the fairway and nearly reached the green in two. He then chipped to within tap-in range to close out his victory.
“None of us really played that great,” Stetzner admitted. “I know the nerves got to me, I don’t know about the other two, but yeah it was a scramble out there. I figured if I was somewhere around even or 1 under I would have a good chance to win. It was definitely a good day to have my short game on.”
Moore, who was the low junior in the event was on Stetzner’s heels all day, but a bogey on 16 and a double on 17 after finding the water hazard ruined the high school phenom’s chances. Moore shot 73 for a 209 total and fourth place.
Jordy Donoven of Kremlin rounded out the top five after a final round 73.
Rounding out the top 10 were: Garrett Woodin (E) in sixth, Spencer Williams (+3) in seventh, Jim Bob Coleman and Mark Mance tied for eighth (+4) and Brad Grattan and Dirk Cloninger (+5).
The low round of the day was 67 by Logan Iverson of Kalispell.
Spencer Williams and Bennett MacIntyre of Helena’s Bill Roberts took home the Barnett Cup, awarded to the low two players from a club after rounds 1 and 2.
130 players from around the state are competing in the MSGA’s signature tournament of the year. The event is open to amateur players with handicap indexes of 12 and below.
Full leaderboard with hole by hole information can be found here: