The KPAX countdown of the top sports stories of the year now reaches a phenom unlike anything we’ve seen in Montana. Coming in No. five on our list in 2018, the incredible championships won by Libby golfer Ryggs Johnston.
Montana golf fans have long known about the long-armed star from the northwest corner of the state. But until this summer, Ryggs Johnston had never played in the biggest tournament in the state. The soon-to-be high school senior entered the Montana Men’s State Am for the first time. And after a solid first round, he torched the field and the Butte Country Club with an 8-under par 62 on Day 2.
The final round became one of his patented victory laps. Johnston won by eight strokes, and is believed to be the youngest State Am champ ever.
“That was a fun tournament,” said Johnston a few days after the claiming the trophy. “It was really cool to win my first State Am that I’ve ever competed in. It’s obviously the goal to win every tournament. But yeah, I’m glad I got to play in it finally and win one.”
After dominating grown men, Johnston returned to his final season of high school competition. And he made more history. The senior Logger won another Class A championship in Hamilton, once again by eight strokes, to become only the second Montana boy to win a fourth career state title.
“I didn’t feel like I played even close to up to my expectations,” said Johnston. “But winning a state championship is not easy. It felt pretty good. I was kind of relieved. It’s been on my mind a lot lately, just this whole season focusing on getting that fourth title. So for it to finally be over with and completed, it felt pretty good.”
Johnston will move on to Arizona State next year. He’s looking forward to becoming the underdog once again in college, after years of playing the dominant favorite in Montana.