By Tyler Allen Explore Big Sky Associate Editor

TOWNSEND, MISSOULA – Last year’s Class C individual state champ Tate Tatom is off to a hot start to the 2014 golf season.
The Lone Peak High School junior finished first at the Old Baldy Golf Course in Townsend on April 15, shooting a 3-over-par 75. This was his second win in as many events, taking the individual title at the Loyola Sacred Heart Invitational April 3 and 4.
The LPHS boys didn’t have enough players to compete as a team in Townsend, but the girls took home their second third-place finish of the season, behind Townsend and Three Forks. The boys’ teams from Townsend, Manhattan and Three Forks finished first through third, respectively.
“The golf course was playing very difficult due to the greens being very dry and fast,” LPHS Head Coach Mike King said of the conditions at Old Baldy. “Combined with the fact that the greens are all really small and crowned at the edges, it made hitting [them] difficult. Throw in temps in the mid-40s with clouds and 25-mph winds… scoring conditions were quite challenging.”
At the Loyola Sacred Heart Invitational in Missoula – played at Larchmont Golf Course and Missoula Country Club – the Big Horn boys finished in second place out of 10 teams, 17 shots ahead of third place Thompson Falls.

Lone Peak was sitting atop the leaderboard after the first round, three strokes ahead of perennial powerhouse and host Loyola Sacred Heart. But Loyola took advantage of their home course and charged back in the second round, cruising to a 30-shot team win.

Tatom shot a 4-under-par 68 to take a sizeable 10-shot lead after day one. He followed that up with an even-par 71 second round to win the individual title by 14 shots. Tatom was joined by Trevor House, Griffin House and Charlie Johnson in the second-place team effort.

Larchmont is the longest course the girls will play all season, King said, but they weren’t daunted by the lengthy fairways. Taking third place overall, it was the first time in the program’s history the team has placed.

Teyha Braun led the charge, finishing fourth individually out of a field of more than 50 competitors. Gabrielle Gasser, Janie Izzo, Molly Sharr and Katie Reid rounded out the Lady Big Horns’ lineup for its historic finish.

“Even though this was our first chance to hit balls on grass, I was happy with the initial performance,” King said.

After time off for spring break, the Lone Peak golf program will be back on the tees Tuesday, April 29 at Cottonwood Hills in Bozeman.