HELENA — Needing a birdie to lock up a spot in a playoff for the State AA boys golf title, Butte's Jack Prigge came up big. Prigge sank a 30-plus-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole en route to a playoff victory, and the individual championship.
"It feels unreal. It honestly hasn't set it at all. I see everyone around me crying and everything, and honestly, I have no emotions," said Prigge after the playoff. "I'm obviously happy, but it doesn't even feel real at this point."
Heading into Day 2 of the tournament, Helena Capital's Joe McGreevey held a five-shot lead over fellow Bruin Dutch Teders.
McGreevey appeared to have the individual title in his back pocket, but through 17 holes of the final round, McGreevey dropped five shots putting him at risk of needing to win in a playoff. While McGreevey was in reverse, Prigge and Kalispell Glacier's Tyler Avery slowly made their way up the leaderboard.
Avery turned in a 2-under 69, while Prigge sank his long birdie on the 18th to turn in a 1-under 70, to get both of them back to even for the tournament. McGreevey, needing a par to win or a bogey to make it into the playoff, posted a double bogey in his final hole to finish third.
After a quick tally of the scores and a handshake, Avery and Prigge made their way back to the 10th tee, roped drives down the fairway and gave themselves opportunities at birdie on their approach shots. Prigge was away following his second shot, stepped up, and sank his birdie putt sending the surrounding crowd into cheers. Avery, needing a birdie to ensure the playoff continued, narrowly missed left.
"I was trying to make that from the fairway, and when I didn't I was honestly — I was kind of mad. Not that I'm gonna make a shot from 65 yards out often, but I was trying to for sure," said Avery with a chuckle. "I just stepped up and same thing (as the putt for birdie on 18) just let my game speak for itself. Go through the same process I would if I was, you know, alone playing by myself on a random Tuesday night in the summer. You know, same exact thing. Just same swing, same feeling. Just let the shots and golf speak for themselves."
The Capital boys team of McGreevey, Teders, Kyler Meredith and Jacob Brown earned the State AA team title with a 41-over total across the two days. The victory is the first team state title for the Bruins in over thirty years after Capital posted back-to-back top finishes in 1986 and 1987.
On the girls' side of the tournament, Billing's West's Bella Johnson held a three-stroke lead over Billings Senior's Kenzie Walsh. To open the second round, Johnson struggled while Walsh kept inching closer until the two were knotted at four-over through six holes.
On the par-3 seventh, Walsh found the green while Johnson's tee shot was in the bunker. Johnson finished the hole with a bogey. Walsh looked poised to take the lead for the first time but finished with a three-putt bogey, a hole that turned out to be a moment of clarity for Johnson
"Kenzie made her bogey putt, and I knew we're all tied up, I better figure this out," said Johnson. "I needed to pull myself together. So, that was my turning point, to realize that I need to get out of my head."
Johnson fired a 2-under back nine en-route to a 2-over, 74, on the day and her second straight state title. While Johnson and Walsh were battling it out on the course, the two are inseparable away from it.
"We are best friends, outside of golf. Like we are best friends, we do so much together. And it's cool having to win a state championship and my best friend taking second right there with me," said Johnson.
The Billings Senior girls would take the top team spot in the State AA tournament after the team of Walsh, Becca Washington, Lauren Mayala and Avery Fawcett posted a 96-over total across the two days. The Broncs girls last won the team title in 2012.
State AA golf
at Green Meadow Country Club, Helena
Team scores: Helena Capital 295-314-609, Kalispell Glacier 309-317-626, Butte 310-317-627, Billings Skyview 311-317-628, Bozeman 326-309-635, Bozeman Gallatin 329-327-656, Billings West 327-331-658, Kalispell Flathead 318-344-662, Missoula Sentinel 342-360-702, Missoula Hellgate 368-362-730.
Top 10 individuals: Jack Prigge, Butte, 72-70-142 (won playoff); Tyler Avery, Kalispell Glacier, 73-69-142; Joe McGreevey, Helena Capital, 65-78-143; Gavin Klein, Bozeman Gallatin, 73-73-146; Dutch Teders, Helena Capital, 70-79-149; Logan Connolly, Billings Skyview, 72-77-149; Trevor Cunningham, Kalispell Glacier, 76-74-150; Kyler Meredith, Helena Capital, 77-75-152; Cooper Bourret, Bozeman, 76-77-153; Tyler Brunner, Billings Senior, 77-77-154.
Team scores: Billings Senior 334-338-672, Billings West 328-350-678, Bozeman Gallatin 368-354-722, Bozeman 374-375-749, Great Falls CMR 387-404-791, Missoula Hellgate 390-432-822, Helena Capital 426-397-823, Kalispell Glacier 413-429-842, Butte 435-426-861.
Top 10 individuals: Bella Johnson, Billings West, 73-74-147; Addiley Lloyd, Bozeman Gallatin, 80-75-155; Kenzie Walsh, Billings Senior, 76-79-155; Anna Stensrud, Missoula Hellgate, 82-78-160; Becca Washington, Billings Senior, 81-80-161; Chloe Tanner, Kalispell Glacier, 78-87-165; Hanna Boyd, Great Falls, 80-85-165; Lauren Mayala, Billings Senior, 87-83-170; Mielle Kavran, Billings West, 83-90-173; Olivia McGreevey, Helena Capital, 86-88-174.