With the East region championships set for Friday and Saturday at Pinetop Country Club, the Payson High golf team has the opportunity to tune up for the all-important showdown tomorrow (Wednesday) on its home course at the Rim Club.
Set to participate in the regular season-ending nine-hole tournament are Snowflake, Holbrook, Show Low, Blue Ridge and host Payson.
Those schools are some of the same ones the Horns must outduel in the regionals to advance to the state tournament May 7 and 8 at Torreon Pines and Silver Creek near Show Low.
Horns coach Brett Morse, in his first year at the helm of the Horn links program, tagged Snowflake as the team to beat at the region championships.
At the state tournament, the coach predicts Safford, Fountain Hills and Chandler Seton will provide the Horns with their stiffest competition. Safford represents the South region and Fountain Hills and Seton the West.
The Horns are bound for season's end with a talented crew that has proven all season to be one of PHS's most successful squads. The Rim team showed just how potent it is with easy tournament victories April 18 at Tatum Ranch and April 11 at Silver Creek.
In the Tatum Ranch nine-hole shoot out, Payson (168) claimed the title over Show Low (195), Winslow (198) and Pinnacle (199).
In the 20-player field, the Longhorns dominated with first-, second-, third- and fifth-place finishes.
Top-gun honors on the par 36 course went to freshman Billy Bob Hoyt, with a 39. Carding a 40, Tyson McKee was second. Brandan Kelley (42) was third and Tyler Shrum (47) fifth.
At the Silver Creek tournament, Payson (317) again took top honors over Snowflake (317), Blue Ridge (344), Show Low (343), Winslow (353) and Holbrook (412).
Carding a 74 on the par 71 course, Hoyt swung his way to the low-medalist title.
Snowflake's Derrick Schneider was three strokes off the pace at 77.
For Payson, McKee carded a 79 to finish third in the 30-player field. Schrum's 80 was good enough for fourth place. Kelley (84) and Jeff Higgins (89) also participated in the play five, keep four scores tournament format.
In junior varsity action April 13 at Desert Canyon course, the Horns' fledglings defeated Fountain Hills 292-296. Payson's Kyle Kent was the low medalist with a 39.