Oklahoma State’s Jin leads NCAA men by 3 after 65

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“I just feel like you have to play smart, you can’t go after every single flag,” he said. “My irons were pretty good and I hit my putts well.”

Johnston had a bit of an adjustment at one of the nation’s top college programs after growing up in Libby, Montana.

Located about an hour south of the Canadian border, Libby has about 3,000 people, a couple of stoplights and is 90 minutes from the nearest Walmart. It also has a short golf season, running from late March until about mid-October.

Johnston made the most of his limited time on the one 18-hole course in Libby, Cabinet Golf Course, and played at lot of out-of-state golf as a junior.

The lanky 6-foot-2 sophomore, Arizona State’s No. 3 golfer, matched the program’s low round of 2021 with a 64 at the Valspar Invitational in March and finished tied for fourth at the Pac-12 Championship.

Johnston got off to a hot start in sizzling conditions at Grayhawk, reeling off six birdies in eight holes after starting on No. 10. He offset a bogey on the par-4 third with three birdies on his back nine.

“I started off pretty hot, which was big,” Johnston said. “I didn’t really hit anything super close, but I made a ton of putts and kept hitting it on the line I was trying to hit it on, and kept making them.”

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