The Payson High School golf team now knows what it will take to win the school's first state golf championship -- beat Safford.
After watching the potent Bulldogs play their way to the championship of the Show Low Invitational April 1 at Silver Creek, PHS coach Dave Bradley said he and the team members have little doubt Safford is the state title favorite.
"They have six or seven (golfers) who can score under 40," he said.
Currently, a Longhorn goal is to field four members who can card a tally less the 40.
"We can consistently get our first three there (under 40), but not the fourth," Bradley said. "We need to have our number four step up closer to 40."
Last season, when the Horns played their way to a state second-place finish, the team suffered from the same malady -- the inability to card a full compliment of good scores rather than just two or three.
So, what'll it take for the team depth to improve and the athletes to begin turning in more outstanding scores?
Bradley said the solution is practice and a lot of concentration.
At the Show Low meet, most team members played the front nine holes much better than the back nine, even though the difficulty of the holes are almost the same. The inconsistency, Bradley said, resulted in a second-place finish for Payson, nine strokes behind Safford's tournament winning tally of 323.
Host Show Low (340) finished a distant third in the nine-team field.
Bradley said he was puzzled by the inability of his team to play all 18 holes equally well.
"The only thing I can think of," he said, "is that they hadn't played the back nine before and had (played) the front."
Individually, Payson's Tyson McKee finished as the tournament medalist, turning in a 76.
As Bradley bemoaned at tournament's end, McKee shot a sizzling 34 on the front but faded to a 42 on the back nine. "He was a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," Bradley said.
Trailing McKee in the standings for Payson were Tyler Schrum who turned in an 85 -- 39 on the front, 46 on the back.
Also for the Longhorns, Tyler Perna finished at 86 and Dallas Rensch at 87.
Only two days prior to the Show Low Invitational, the Payson golfers travel to Desert Canyon course near North Scottsdale where the team finished as runner-up to host Fountain Hills.
FH turned in a card of 201 and Payson a 202. Coolidge (257) and Camp Verde (254) trailed in the standings.
As he was in Show Low, McKee was the tournament medalist finishing with a 37. Perna and a pair of Fountain Hills golfers dead-knotted for second, one stroke off the pace. With a 39, Rensch was third.
Keith Stevens (43) and Schrum (44) rounded out the Longhorn effort.