Moore edges Johnston in playoff to capture 4th of July Tournament title

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  • Arthur Doorn follows his shot on No. 1 of the South Course on day three of the 4th of July Tournament at Whitefish Lake Golf Club.

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    Shawn Tucker tees off on No. 1 of the South Course on day three of the 4th of July Tournament at Whitefish Lake Golf Club.

  • Arthur Doorn follows his shot on No. 1 of the South Course on day three of the 4th of July Tournament at Whitefish Lake Golf Club.

  • 1

    Shawn Tucker tees off on No. 1 of the South Course on day three of the 4th of July Tournament at Whitefish Lake Golf Club.

The 81st Annual Whitefish Lake Golf Club’s 4th of July Tournament turned into a battle of the state’s two biggest prep stars.

And this time, unlike the past two years at the MHSA state golf tournament, Billings’ Joey Moore got the best of Libby’s Ryggs Johnston.

Beginning with an eagle on No. 6, Moore surged to the turn and through the back nine for a 5-under-par 66 on Saturday at the South Course, erasing Johnston’s three-stroke lead to begin the day.

The two prep standouts matched each other stroke for stroke through the final three holes to send the tournament to a sudden death playoff, and Moore won the playoff hole after Johnston hit his tee shot out of bounds to the left.

“Going into the day, I was just trying to be really aggressive, go for every pin,” Moore said.

“The course is in great shape. Both sides, it was really fun. Best atmosphere I’ve ever played in, not going to lie.”

Hailey Hoagland posted her third solid round in as many days, firing a 2-under 70 to run away from the field for the women’s championship.

The Butte native, who now plays for the Montana women’s team, was tied for second after the first round but fired the best women’s score the final two days and pulled away for an eight-stroke win.

“It’s very humbling,” Hoagland said.

“Some of the best, if not the best, female golfers in the state were here, so to be able to win a tournament like this is a pretty great accomplishment.

“I played with a great group today, and it was a great field of competition for this tournament. It’s always fun getting all of us college players back together for a tournament.”

Both winners are relatively new to the tournament. Moore finished on top in his first appearance, and Hoagland, who finished in a tie for second with Maggie Crippen in 2016, was playing for just the second time.

Crippen was second again this year, edging out fellow Missoula native Kylie Esh by two strokes.

Johnston had to settle for another top-5 finish, his third in as many years.

He posted a 2-under 69 on Saturday to become the only player in the tournament to shoot in the 60s all three days, but it wasn’t enough to fend off a charging Moore on the back nine.

Johnston was 4-under through six holes to begin the day, building what seemed at the time to be an insurmountable seven-stroke lead.

Just as the tournament seemed to be slipping away from Moore, he began playing his best golf of the week.

He eagled the par-5 6th and followed it with birdies on Nos. 7 and 8 to close the gap, but it wasn’t until the middle of the back nine when the reigning Class AA state champion felt he was truly back in the mix.

“Probably on 13, when I made about a 12-footer,” Moore said. “He made bogey. I made par. I was, I think, two back at that point. I was like, ‘OK, if I make a couple of birdies coming in, I can have a chance.’ Made two more birdies, and the rest is history.”

Johnston was in position to take charge on No. 17 with a five-foot par putt, but he couldn’t get it to fall. Moore’s 20-foot par putt on the par-4 17th lipped out.

“I just got a little tired at the end,” Johnston said. “I played pretty good for 10 holes and then just got tired. Couldn’t really hit a ball.”

Both players tapped in for bogey and also bogeyed No. 18 to force a playoff.

The 16-year-old Johnston went out of bounds to the left off the tee. Moore followed him left but kept his ball in bounds.

A few moments later, Moore tapped in a par putt from two feet to win the first playoff in the 4th of July Tournament since 2011 and seal the title in his inaugural appearance.

“Kind of relieved,” Moore said. “It’s stressful. I was tired. We even said to each other on hole 17 that we didn’t have much left.

“You know that (Johnston) doesn’t make many mistakes. He hits it straight. He hits it pretty long. When he gets hot with the putter, everything’s rolling in. It’s tough to compete with, but sometimes you’ve just got to put pressure on somebody and it helps. He’s amazing.”

The win gave the 17-year-old Moore, who will play at San Diego State after his senior year, a taste of revenge for the past two years, when Johnston has claimed the all-class state golf title and shattered state records in the process.

Moore refused to wilt under the beating sun and pressure, and he had a crystal trophy at the end of the day to show for his efforts.

“Joey played really good,” Johnston said. “Started out a little rough, but then he got it going, and he just didn’t stop the whole day.”

4th of July Tournament

Saturday’s Final Results

Whitefish Lake Golf Club

Men

Championship Flight

1 Joey Moore 66-70-66--202

1 Ryggs Johnston 67-66-69--202

3 Cory Mehl 70-73-66--209

4 Conor Rooney 69-70-75--214

T5 Sean Benson 74-70-71--215

T5 Garrett Woodin 71-73-71--215

T7 Logan Lindholm 66-75-76--217

T7 Robb Bergeson 73-75-69--217

T9 Shawn Tucker 71-75-72--218

T9 Kyle Mossfeldt 75-71-72--218

T11 Brittain Walton 74-74-71--219

T11 Jim Coleman 76-69-74--219

T11 Brett Patton 76-71-72--219

T14 Brad Grattan 68-73-82--223

T14 Arthur Doorn 75-74-74--223

T14 Mark Mance 70-78-75--223

T14 Andrew Medley 77-76-70--223

T14 Sam Krause 78-73-72--223

T14 Chris Lien 77-77-69--223

T20 Bob Conrad 73-73-78--224

T20 Alexander Smith 73-83-68--224

22 Ryan Swagar 77-78-72--227

T23 RJ Patterson 77-82-70--229

T23 Ron Ramsbacher 74-77-78--229

T25 Mark Dolven 72-78-81--231

T25 Will Ellegard 80-75-76--231

T25 Adam Lee 75-79-77--231

28 Ben Berg 78-77-77--232

T29 Bob Hasquet 76-80-78--234

T29 Justin Miller 77-75-82--234

T29 Payton Stott 80-74-80--234

T29 Bill Dunn 71-81-82--234

T33 Ross Bartell 79-77-81--237

T33 Austin Walter 81-76-80--237

T35 Cooper Donahue 81-80-78--239

T35 Dane Martinson 83-82-74--239

T35 Joe Wagner 79-79-81--239

T35 Bucky Crippen 75-80-84--239

T39 Joel Mallams 81-79-83--243

T39 Scott Larson 78-85-80--243

41 Rick Reimers 81-81-83--245

Women

Championship Flight

1 Hailey Hoagland 71-72-70--213

2 Maggie Crippen 68-78-75--221

3 Kylie Esh 71-75-77--223

4 Cathie Tronson 74-75-75--224

5 Coral Schulz 73-75-78--226

6 Anna DeMars 76-75-79--230

7 Teigan Avery 76-78-77--231

8 Kyla Clancy 77-75-83--235

9 Shealyn Hafer 80-83-77--240

10 Carly McNaughton 76-85-80--241

11 Morgan O’Neil 76-89-78--243

12 Sadie Crippen 83-82-81--246

13 Kasia Kazmierczyk 79-85-85--249

Senior

Championship Flight

1 Carroll Lilly 81-70-70--221

2 Gary Holt 76-74-75--225

3 Peter Benson 77-75-77--229

4 Dave Streeter 78-77-77--232

5 Frank Sutton 78-80-76--234

6 Dan Konen 84-78-78--240

7 Larry Schwenke 81-83-79--243

8 Ian Fraser 86-80-81--247

T9 Thomas Shea 90-85-79--254

T9 Dan Lieberg 87-89-78--254

111 Robert Sandman 87-90-89--266

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