WHITEFISH – Defending champion Brandon McIver of Billings owned a one-stroke lead Thursday after the first round of the 97th Montana State Amateur golf tournament at Whitefish Lake’s North Course.
McIver’s 3-under-par 69 was a single stroke better than another pre-tournament favorite, Ryan Porch of Kalispell, who is alone in second after a 70.
McIver, who plays for the University of Oregon, played in the U.S. Open last month at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina.
Jordy Donoven of Kremlin is by himself in third place after opening with a 71 on a windy day in the Flathead Valley.
Ten golfers are tied for fourth after opening with even-par rounds of 72. Among those are perennial contenders Jake Hedge of Billings, Ross Bartell of Great Falls, Spencer Williams of East Helena and Missoula’s Brian Beach.
Hedge and Beach tied for fourth in last year’s State Am, while Bartell was sixth.
That group tied for fourth also includes Joey Moore, a 14-year-old Billings golfer.