Final prep rounds for Johnston

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  • Libby's Ryggs Johnston watches his approach on the 12th hole of Whitefish Lake Golf Club's North Course during the Whitefish Invitational on Wednesday. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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    Libby's Ryggs Johnston watches his approach on the 12th hole of Whitefish Lake Golf Club's North Course during the Whitefish Invitational on Wednesday. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

  • Libby's Ryggs Johnston watches his approach on the 12th hole of Whitefish Lake Golf Club's North Course during the Whitefish Invitational on Wednesday. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

  • 1

    Libby's Ryggs Johnston watches his approach on the 12th hole of Whitefish Lake Golf Club's North Course during the Whitefish Invitational on Wednesday. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

Even Ryggs Johnston is a little surprised by it, finding it hard to believe at times.

Johnston, a senior, will tee it up today and Saturday at the Hamilton Golf Club for the final performance of his spectacular prep career with the Libby Loggers at the Class A state golf tournament.

He’s the defending Class A state champion and has dominated the sport for four years.

“It went by quick,” he said.

“I remember being an eighth grader and not being able to wait for high school to come.”

Last year he won his first A state title by breaking the 10-year-old Class A state record for 36 holes with his 10-under-par 134. He closed with a 6-under 66 at the Sidney Country Club after a 4-under 68 the first day.

Johnston won back-to-back state titles his freshman and sophomore seasons in record fashion when the Loggers competed in Class B.

“It’s a good course,” Johnston said of the Hamilton Golf Club.

“It fits my game pretty well.”

Paul O’Neil of Laurel, Caleb Myers of Lewistown and Matt Hobbs of Polson will be in Johnston’s foursome today.

“Not quite joy yet,” he said of being happy his high school career is ending.

“I still have work to do. I’m just trying to finish my career strong, with another state championship. That’s my focus right now. I’m not focused on this being the end and all that stuff. It’s not like the end of my career as it is for a lot of seniors. This is the end of a chapter.”

Johnston’s golfing career will continue at the collegiate level next year with a full-ride scholarship to Arizona State University.

“Tough to compare,” he said of his game this year to last year.

“I actually shot lower scores last year. I haven’t played in that many golf tournaments this year.

“I think I will (be OK for state). I shot a couple of low rounds at the last tournaments. The summer helped, too. I played all summer.”

His last tournament was Saturday, the Western A Divisional at Cabinet View Golf Club in Libby. Johnston shot 65 to finish 10 shots ahead of Hobbs.

Johnston has played in only five tournaments this fall, winning all of them. He missed a couple to start the season as he was in California competing in the U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach Golf Links and at Spyglass Hill Golf Course.

He shot a 71 the first day to tie for 28th place.

“That prepared me (for my final season), helped my high school golf out,” he said of playing Pebble Beach.

“It improves all aspects of my game playing better courses. It helps me out when I come back here.

“It’s definitely a different style how you play courses in Montana,” he added.

“They are shorter, not set up the way the U.S. Am is. You adjust.”

NOTE: Johnston has carded four aces, holds course records at Whitefish and Shelby, won numerous tournaments and played many of the famous courses from Florida to Hawaii. One thing, however, has eluded him — an albatross, or a double eagle. “Never got one of those ... 2 on a par 5 (or ace a par 4),” he said. “Still looking for that, maybe someday. If you play enough golf, though, it will happen.”

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