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Libby's Johnston playing in European Amateur Championship

The Western News | June 24, 2022 7:00 AM

Libby native Ryggs Johnston is playing in the 35th edition of the European Amateur Championship this week at Parador de El Saler, Spain.

Johnston, who honed his skills at Cabinet View Golf Course, is one of 144 competitors representing 42 countries, who teed it up on Wednesday for four rounds of stroke play competition.

Wednesday, Johnston carded an even par 72 and is tied for 36th with nine other players. Italy’s Filippo Celli’s 8-under 64 leads the rest of the field by three strokes.

The University of Arizona’s Christian Banke, the only other player from the U.S. in the tournament, is tied for 106th after shooting a 6-over par 78.

Johnston was scheduled to tee off at 11:29 a.m. Thursday.

The championship, first played in 1986, is consistently ranked amongst the strongest amateur events in the world for strength of field and regularly attracts the top talent in the amateur game.

Several Ryder Cup stars and major champions have featured in the European Amateur Championship in the past. Rory McIlroy (2006) and Sergio Garcia (1995) both won the event before turning pro, while Lee Westwood (1993), Paul Casey (1999), Danny Willet (2007) and Tommy Fleetwood (2010) have all previously medaled in the tournament.

A win in the European Amateur Championship would net Johnston an invitation to the 150th British Open in St. Andrews in three weeks. Top 5 finishers are invited to compete in The Open final qualifying stage.

Johnston, who plays collegiately at Arizona State, is currently ranked No. 83 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. His highest ranking was No. 40.

Johnston may not have had the junior season he wanted to on the links, but it didn’t affect his performance in the classroom. The Sports Business major has a 4.0 cumulative grade point average. Johnston was tied for 53rd in the PAC-12 Championships in April.

In Johnston’s first full season in 2020-21, he earned third-team All-America honors in his sophomore year. At the 2021 NCAA Championship, he shot a 7-under 63 on May 29, the second-best round by a Sun Devil in NCAA Championship history.

According to the European Golf Association, Parador de El Saler will present a challenge to the players this year. The par-72, located in the El Saler nature reserve near Valencia in Spain, is regularly ranked among the top courses in Europe. Built in 1968 by the internationally recognized "architect of Spanish golf," Javier Arana, the course is set up at 6,890 yards in length this week. With lower than normal winds forecast for the tournament days, it could take a score deep into red numbers to claim the title.

Draws and live scoring can be followed throughout the week on the European Amateur Championship event page, while updates and highlight videos can be found on our social channels @ega_golf.