BUTTE — Days later, Butte High senior Jack Prigge is still trying to wrap his mind around the incredible turn of fortune he experienced in the final round of the State AA golf tournament at Green Meadow Country Club in Helena on Friday.
"It didn't really feel real at the time and it still doesn't honestly feel real," he said Tuesday at the Butte Country Club where he was still in a daze that he had departed Helena as a state champion, the Bulldogs' first since 1963.
Prigge headed into Friday's round tied for third and seven strokes behind leader Joe McGreevey of Helena Capital, who is his cousin.
The front nine ended with Prigge falling two further strokes behind McGreevey, who now seemed to have the title all but secured.
As he made the turn, Prigge had two conflicting thoughts.
The optimist in him said: "I am nine shots back with nine to go. Just gotta start chipping away at it, do my best, stay patient, do my work."
But the realist in him wasn't quite as confident.
"I was so far behind and (McGreevey) was playing on another level than anyone else in that tournament," Prigge said. "I honestly didn't think I had a chance to win. I was just gonna go leave it out there for my team."
And so that's what Prigge did on the back nine, carding pars and birdies as McGreevey began settling for bogeys. With six holes left to play, Prigge had already trimmed McGreevey's lead from nine strokes to five.
Eventually, a scenario unfolded that at the turn would have been hard to fathom — on the final hole Prigge had a shot at about a 35-foot birdie to likely send the round into a sudden death playoff with him, McGreevey and Kalispell Glacier's Tyler Avery.
"All I was thinking about is I'm going to get this to the hole, I'm going to make it, I'm going to do the exact same thing I do on every other golf shot," Prigge said. "And just hopefully the ball goes in and if not I'm going to give it my best."
Prigge drained the putt while McGreevey double-bogeyed to settle for third place. Prigge and Avery then advanced to a playoff where Prigge sank another birdie on the first hole to complete a wild comeback that he's still stunned by.
The comeback victory may not have fully sunk in yet for him, but it's something he's been dreaming of since settling for third place last year behind then Bozeman Gallatin senior phenoms Jordan and Justus Verge.
"I can remember nights last winter, this spring all this summer just waking up and feeling nervous and randomly thinking about it during the day," he said. "It's meant so much to me over the whole year that this was the one, this was the one that I really wanted to get."
He's not sure what his plans are after high school, but he knows that he wants to play collegiate golf, a prospect that's likely much more probable after his exploits in his final state tournament.
Friday's storybook finish was the final varsity sport he'll play. He talked about coaches, family and all the people that played a role — both big and small — in helping him earn a title that Butte High has been looking to recapture for nearly 60 years.
"When I think about high school golf, my last tournament played, last season played, I'm just happy that I could bring it home for the people around me," he said.