BUTTE — Libby High School golf phenom Ryggs Johnston is beginning to run away from the field at the 101st Montana Men’s State Am at the Butte Country Club.
Johnston made a run at the course record (60) on Friday afternoon, but came up just short on his way to a sensational 8-under-par 62. Johnston had six birdies and two bogeys on his way to a front-nine 31. He followed that with four birdies on the back for another 31.
Johnston had a streak of three birdies on the front capped by a chip-in on No. 6. After his tee shot bounced off the back edge of the green, Johnston bounced his chip shot on the edge of the green and rolled it gently to the center of the pin. As it dropped, he let out a fist pump and slapped hands with playing partner Logan Lindholm. Johnston also birdied Nos. 13, 14 and 15 on the back.
After his blistering round, Johnston has positioned himself well to claim his first Men’s State Am title. Sitting at 10-under, he holds a seven shot lead entering Saturday’s final round.
Former Billings West sensation Joey Moore and Billings’ Josh Hedge sit in a tie for second at 3-under. Hedge, who shot an even-par 70 Thursday, finished Friday’s round with a 67. Moore followed Thursday’s 69 with a 2-under 68. Moore made an eagle on the Par-4 15th but bogeyed Nos. 17 and 18.
Day 1 leader Marcus Drange of Billings shot a 3-over 73 on Friday and sits 10 shots back of Johnston.
The leaders will tee off around 1 p.m. in Saturday’s final round. The full leaderboard can be found here.