If the Longhorn golf team emerges victorious in the Class 3A state tournament Monday and Tuesday, it will earn the school's first links championship.
The team enters the season-ending fray as one of the gold-medal favorites along with Fountain Hills, Chandler Seton, Safford, Sahuarita and Snowflake.
According to PHS coach Bret Morse, all have shown the prowess this season to win the state title.
But make no mistake about it, the Horns have also played their way into title contention by putting together one of the best seasons in PHS golf history.
The team capped the highly successful campaign April 27 and 28 by running away with the East regional championship. By compiling a school record tally of 600, the team bested the nearest competition Snowflake by a whopping 30 strokes.
The Horns domination of the Pinetop Country Club course continued into the post-tournament clubhouse, where freshman Billy Bob Hoyt was named East Player of the Year, and Morse was named the Coach of the Year.
Hoyt received the honor after finishing the tournament with a 145. On the par 71 course, he shot a 73 on the first round and a 72 on the second.
Teammate Tyson McKee took medalist honors the first day, breaking par with a sterling 70.
It was the first time this season a Payson golfer has broken par on an 18-hole round, Morse said.
On the second day, McKee shot a 76 to finish as the East region runner-up, one stroke behind Hoyt.
Teammate Brandan Kelley grabbed fifth-place honors. His final card of 155 included tallies of 77 and 78.
Tyler Schrum (77 and 83) and Jeff Higgins (83 and 77) finished sixth and seventh respectively on a scorecard playoff. In the "play five, keep four" tournament format, Schrum's 77 was used in the Horn team tally on the first day and Higgins' 77 on the second.
At the upcoming state tournament, the 36-hole opening round will be played on the Torreon course located just west of Show Low.
Tuesday, the Longhorns traveled to the course where they practiced for the state showdown.
The second round of the state tournament is scheduled for the Silver Creek course located midway between Show Low and Taylor.
The Longhorns had the opportunity to play both courses back-to-back March 29 and 30 at the Show Low Invitational Tournament.
While both courses are challenging, Morse predicts Torreon might give the state field the most difficulty.