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Challenges await Libby's Ryggs Johnston in pro golf debut on PGA Tour Americas

Ryggs Johnston
Posted at 1:00 PM, Jun 19, 2024

BILLINGS — On the golf course, Libby's Ryggs Johnston prefers to set process-oriented goals.

He puts no real benchmarks on stroke totals or leaderboard shifts, but instead wants to strike every ball with confidence and trust himself on each shot.

Johnston isn't about to change his approach now, especially as he prepares to make his professional debut Thursday in the PGA Tour Americas' Beachlands Victoria Open in Vancouver, B.C.

"I don't have a goal of like, I want to take top-10 in this tournament or anything like that," Johnston told MTN Sports. "I've learned that I do better when I don't expect a certain result. But I feel like my game is in a good spot."

It's paid off to this point.

At Libby High School, Johnston was a four-time Class A state golf champion, and he parlayed that success into a five-year career at Arizona State where he earned third-team All-America status and helped the Sun Devils to the 2024 Pac-12 title. He also earned a third-place individual finish at the 2021 NCAA championships.

Johnston qualified for the fledgling PGA Tour Americas by virtue of finishing in the top 25 of the 2023-2024 university rankings. He said he plans to play in the tour's 10 Canadian events this year, culminating with the Fortinet Cup Championship in Toronto in early September.

This weekend's Beachlands Victoria Open will be contested at the 6,420-yard Uplands Golf Club in Vancouver. When he tees off Thursday, he'll have achieved the first of his professional goals.

"I think I'm going in with the right mindset and with some confidence, so that helps," said Johnston, who closed his collegiate career with four consecutive top-10 finishes.

"I would say I'm pretty excited. I think I'll be a little nervous on the first tees. I've played a lot of golf tournaments, so I don't usually get too nervous. But obviously ... first professional golf shot, I would expect some nerves, but I think I'll be alright."

By virtue of qualifying for the PGA Tour Americas, Johnston has conditional status for the Latin swing of the tour next year. Still, Johnston said he hopes to achieve Korn Ferry Tour status via the PGA's Q-School and, eventually, play on the PGA Tour.

"That would definitely check a major goal off the list," Johnston said.

First, though, is Thursday's opening round in Vancouver where he will attempt to make the cut after two rounds and get his pro career started on the right foot.

Johnston does, however, expect to be challenged in ways he hasn't been before.

"It's going to be a little different type of golf," he said. "Different types of courses, different setups.

"Obviously you're kind of there by yourself, not playing with a team. You don't have coaches traveling with you. So that will be a new challenge. It's exciting to see how I handle that. Playing for your job will be a little different than playing for your school."

Johnston will tee off Thursday in the first round of the Beachlands Victoria Open at 3:30 p.m. Mountain time.