BUTTE — Butte Country Club is playing host to the 101st Montana Men’s State Am golf tournament that got under way on Thursday morning.
Marcus Drange, the head golf coach at Billings West and assistant at MSU Billings, shot an opening-round 3-under-par 67 to grab the lead after Day 1. Drange shot a 1-under 34 on the front nine but bogeyed Nos. 10 and 11 to fall to 1-over. However, Drange quickly rebounded, carding an eagle on the par-5 13th, the only par 5 on the course. Drange followed that with birdies on Nos. 15 and 16 to get to 3-under.
Drange has a number of golfers hot on his tail after Day 1. Libby phenom Ryggs Johnston fired a 2-under 68 to sit in sole possession of second place. Johnston lipped out his birdie putt on No. 18 that would have tied him for the lead.
Montana Tech golfer Sean Benson navigated a tough start, shooting 37 on the front, before carding three birdies in the final six holes to finish with a 1-under 69. Former Billings West sensation Joey Moore also shot a 1-under 69.
Defending champion Caleb Stetzner of Anaconda shot a front-nine 40 and never recovered, as he shot a 75 and sits eight shots back.
Golfers will look to make a move on Day 2 to position themselves for Saturday’s final round. The leaders will tee off around noon on Friday. The full leaderboard can be found here.