Glacier senior Tyler Avery was emotional after making his last putt at the Class A State Golf tournament in Helena on Sept. 30. He had overcome a huge first-day deficit to come within a single stroke of an individual state championship and was quietly shedding some tears when he was told to pull it together — the tournament wasn’t over for him.
It turned out the coach who was scoring Avery’s day-two round accidentally put down a bogey for one of his holes instead of par. They realized the error after Avery had finished his 18-holes and was watching Butte’s Jack Prigge on his last green. The Bulldog senior sank his birdie putt and began to celebrate, wrongly thinking he had ended one stroke up on his Wolfpack rival.
“I went from crying because it was my last golf round of high school to thinking ‘oh shoot, this isn’t over,” Avery said. “I had to flip a switch real quickly to get back in the mindset of having to play. Neither of us expected that situation, but I was prepared nonetheless.”
For his entire high school career Avery has been a star on the links. He finished third in the state tournament as a freshman, followed by two more top-10 finishes. For four years, ending the state tournament on top of the podium had been on his mind.
Entering Friday’s round, Avery was sitting eight strokes back, tied for fifth, but he knew playing his best golf on day two was his strong suit.
“It was a little demoralizing to be that far back, but I didn’t let it get to me,” Avery said. “I showed up on Friday ready to go, followed my game plan and played really well compared to the field.”
He shot 69 the second day, the best of the field, to end up tied with Prigge (73-70) with 142, forcing the playoff.
A great drive down the stretch, followed by a solid second shot onto the green left Avery facing a birdie putt. Prigge ended up in the same position, but a little further back. Prigge sank his putt. Avery missed.
“I can’t frown too much after coming back from fifth to finish second,” Avery said after the tournament. “I can sleep soundly knowing I gave it everything I had. I played 36 holes of golf as best as I could.”
“There were a few putts here and there. Some I made that I shouldn’t’ have, and definitely some I should have made that I missed,” he continued. “But it just wasn’t meant to be.”
Avery’s second place finish helped the Wolfpack to a second-straight runner-up finish at state, trailing Capital by 17 points and edging Butte by one.
“After finishing second at divisionals to Butte, there was definitely some tension among the team going into state,” Avery said. “It gave the guys fuel for the week though, knowing we were aiming to win it.”
Glacier’s Trevor Cunningham finished seventh to earn all-state honors, while Trey Engellant and Tanyon Murray finished 26 and 39 respectively.
“This team had goals and did their best to carry them out,” Avery said. “That’s all we ask for fro the guys, and we’re really proud of it. It’s a young team with good guys coming in — they’ll get it done eventually.”
While Avery’s time as a high school golfer has ended, neither his high school athletic career, nor his golf career, are over. The multi-sport athlete is also one of the top runners on the Wolfpack cross country team, meaning he’ll spend the next three weeks getting race-ready for another state championship. As for golfing, Avery is currently talking to several college coaches about continuing his career at the next level. (His older sister Teigan played for the University of Montana.)
“Really when I look at it, my career’s just starting again,” Avery said. “I don’t know where that’s going to be or really what the future holds, but I’m excited for the next chapter.”
In the girls Class AA tournament, Glacier’s Chloe Tanner finished tied for sixth, her second top-10 finish at state.
Down in Hamilton, the Class A State golf tournament took place on Friday and Saturday with Polson golfers earning a team title for the girls and a runner-up finish for the boys. The Whitefish boys took third.
Polson’s Ashley Maki (third), Clare Konen (T9) Kylee Seifert (T14) and Kila Cannon (T19) brought home the program’s fourth title.
On the boys side, Polson’s Carson Hupka shot 71-71 to end up four strokes back in second, while Whitefish’s Billy Smith tied for third (72-71).
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