Larry Iverson III. It’s a good golf name. But his game is even better – maybe the best in the state.
Iverson, Glacier High’s junior standout, has won the first two Class AA golf tournaments of the 2007 season, including the Helena Invite in which he shot back-to-back 68s for an 8-stroke rout. His team won by 32 strokes after coming in third in the year’s first tournament in Great Falls. Not bad for having no seniors.
Iverson understands what this all means.
“It feels good to be a part of the history of what Glacier can be,” he said.
In the first tournament of the year in Great Falls, Iverson opened up with a 77, leaving himself well out of first place. Through the first nine holes of the second round, he didn’t do a whole lot to improve his position by shooting a 39. But on the back nine, he found another gear and shot a scorching 33. His impressive comeback gave him a one-stroke victory for the tournament.
“When it comes down to the last shot,” said Wolfpack Coach Rob Logsdon. “He wants that.”
Logsdon said sports like golf and soccer help give a boost to Glacier High’s fledgling athletic program while sports that need a lot more players like football have time to build. For that reason, he said, early season success, for both his team and Iverson, carries added significance.
“They’re blazing a trail,” he said. “They can bring legitimacy (to Glacier) early.”
That pressure can be intimidating for some athletes, but for Iverson it’s exciting, Logsdon said.
“Guys like Larry take it as a challenge,” he said. “This is the only chance you’ll have to be the first of the first.”
Iverson should be used to being first, or at least ahead of almost everybody else. He began hitting golf balls at the age of 2, played his first full course when he was 6, and then entered his first competition when he was 8. As a freshman at Flathead High, he placed third in the state. Last year he was fourth. This year? Iverson knows he’s among the best in the state, if not the best, but one bad shot in golf in can change everything.
“I don’t take anything for granted,” he said. “Anything can happen, on the last hole, the last shot.”
Logsdon doesn’t take anything for granted either, though he is confident that if Iverson plays the way he is capable of, without any abnormal circumstances, Glacier will have a state champion at the end of the year.
“I think he should be (state champ),” Logsdon said. “He’s earned that right.”
Logsdon is referring to Iverson’s mature work ethic when he says his star has “earned that right.” In addition, Logsdon said Iverson has an understanding of the game, with all its frustrations and subtleties, well beyond his years. Golf is a fickle game and it is hard for a young person to fully understand that like Iverson does.
“That’s pretty rare,” Logsdon said.
At 6-feet-3-inches, Iverson isn’t gangly. He looks like he would be as comfortable shooting mid-range jumpers on the basketball court as he is swinging a 6-iron on the golf course. But he gave up basketball after his freshman year and football before high school. It’s all about golf now, which includes studying the game all year and practicing at Kalispell’s Golf USA in the winter.
Winter is synonymous with decay for most Montana golfers, but Iverson tries to keep his game as refined as possible even when there’s two feet of snow on the ground. He said he has played in tournaments in warmer states where kids practice year round and has seen the dramatic difference.
“Playing in some tournaments down south, you’re in awe,” he said.
Logsdon believes Iverson is almost on par with some of those year-round stars, but feels that because he’s not able to get on the course all year, he has much further to go before he reaches his potential.
“Somewhere there’s the end of the line, where they can’t get much better,” Logsdon said. “A lot of those kids have hit it. When Larry gets to college, he’ll just be hitting that point.”
“I look at Larry’s dedication – it’s intense,” Logsdon added. “That’s the reason he’ll be able to carry this on to the next level.”