EAST MISSOULA — Joey Moore is on a major roll.

The Billings native, who won the U.S. Men's Amateur qualifier earlier this week at Old Works Golf Course in Anaconda, opened up a four-stroke lead Thursday in the first round of the 54-hole Montana State Amateur at Canyon River.

Moore, a member of the San Diego State golf team, carded a 10-under score of 62, tying a course record. Bozeman's Joey Lovell sits in second at 66, followed by University of Providence (Great Falls) golf coach Spencer Williams at 67.

"My body is more healthy than it normally is coming back from college and it's allowing me to take the club back and hit a nice draw," said Moore, who has dealt with shoulder, ankle and back issues.

"The State Am is awesome because I have a whole bunch of buddies playing in it. It's unfortunate (Libby native and Arizona State standout) Ryggs Johnston didn't play, but that's fine. It's just a homey feeling playing in this tournament. You want to play well."

Missoula native and Montana Tech golfer Sean Ramsbacher is tied with Nathan Bailey of Laurel in fourth place at 68. Missoula's Kade McDonough, who won State AA medalist honors for Sentinel as a freshman last fall, and Liam Clancy of Laurel are tied for sixth with 3-under scores of 69.

"Joey is a stud," the 15-year-old McDonough said of Moore, who carded an eagle 2 on No. 1 and a double-eagle 2 on No. 9. "He just doesn't do anything wrong and 10-under is special.

"I played in the State Am the last two years and haven't done so well, so I feel confident after posting a few good numbers. My goal was to shoot three rounds in the 60s, so I'll try to build off today."

Moore started the month by winning the Fourth of July tournament in Whitefish at 14-under. This past spring he played in five tournaments as a junior member of the Aztecs, including four in the starting lineup.

Dave Eames of Billings leads the senior division after carding a 2-under score of 70. Missoula's Bill Dunn and Mark Van Deusen are tied for second, two strokes behind.

Cory Bedell of Missoula has set the pace in the super senior division, carding a 2-under 70. Bob Gray and Mike Miklos of Missoula are two strokes behind in second place.

The tournament will conclude on Saturday.

Bill Speltz is Missoulian Sports Editor and has served as Sunday columnist the past 15 years. Do you have a story idea? Email Bill at bill.speltz@missoulian.com.

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