By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sports/ email@example.com
When former Havre High School golf standout Jason Johnstone left Blue Pony land for Miles City Community College, he knew he would only have two years to make a big jump in his golf game.
And what a two years it has been.
Johnstone recently finished his MCC golf career in fine fashion by finishing third at the NJCAA national golf tournament in Phoenix, Ariz.
Johnstone fired rounds of 75, 69, 72, 72 to finish with an even-par total of 288. The finish placed him third overall in the tournament that was held at the very difficult Palm Valley Golf Club just outside of Phoenix
It also achieved a goal he set for himself way back when he arrived in Miles City, which was to earn All-American honors.
And while there is no doubt Johnstone plays every tournament to win, he is more than happy with his finish in his last junior college tournament.
"I am very satisfied with how I finished the year," Johnstone said. "I wanted to win the tournament and I put myself in a position to do that. But I also wanted to be an All-American and I was able to achieve my goals."
Johnstone's finish was equally gratifying considering the course and the elite field of players that gathered in Phoenix for the four-day tournament.
"The course was set up very difficult and it got tougher every day of the tournament," he said. "And this was definitely the most competitive tournament I have ever played in. It was a really good field and we played in tough conditions with the heat and the course. It was just a really intense four days of golf."
Of course Johnstone's finish at the national tournament did not come without it's difficult moments. He opened the tourney with a 3-over-par 75 which put him well off the pace of the leaders.
"I knew after the first round that I had to go out and shoot 69 the second day," Johnstone said. "I realized that if I did that, I would be back to even par and that would be a pretty good place to be after two days."
And a 69 is exactly what he shot on the second day. That round put him on the first page of the leader board and only five strokes off the lead.
Johnstone played the final two rounds of the tournament at even-par, which was an extremely solid finish considering the difficulties of the layout. He ultimately did not catch the leader, but felt very good about the golf he played over the final two rounds.
"I was really happy with the golf I played in this tournament," he said. "I shot some really good numbers when I needed to."
Johnstone's career is now over at Miles City and while his future plans are not set yet, he is sure that he will be playing college golf somewhere this fall.
"I am not really sure where I am going to play next season," Johnstone said. "I am looking at a couple of different schools right now and I want to go somewhere where I can play year round and where I can keep improving."
"My time has been great at Miles City," he added. "I have played a very competitive two years of golf and my game has really improved. It has been a great experience."