One of the biggest golf tournaments of the regular season the White Mountain Invitational tees off today (Friday) at Silver Creek Course near Show Low.
The 36-hole prep shootout, which annually draws the East region teams and several other 3A schools from around the state, wraps up tomorrow at Snowflake Golf Course.
PHS coach Bret Morse will take to the fray a contingent of promising young golfers looking to add to a sterling reputation built last season when the Horns won the school's first state championship.
The varsity crew includes Brandan Kelley, John McDermott, Billy Bob Hoyt, Kyle Kent, Jeff Higgins, Stephanie Marrs and possibly Allan McDermott.
A jayvee player most of the season, Allan McDermott saw varsity action two weeks ago in a four-way meet held at Raven Golf Club.
Since the onset of the season, Morse has stressed that strong team play from the entire roster was the key to success.
If the lineup has a budding star, it might be sophomore Billy Bob Hoyt, who last winter gave up wrestling to concentrate on improving his golf game.
One of his most impressive showings was turned in March 21 at Raven where he carded the lowest score of his two-year prep career.
The 30 he turned in was made possible by an eagle on the ninth and final hole. In addition to being a personal record, the tally was good enough for tournament low-medalist honors.
Hoyt continued his links dominance April 4 at the Rim Club by playing his way to low-medalist honors in a four-way tournament involving Sedona, Snowflake and Phoenix Christian.
His two-over-par 73 was one stroke better than that of tournament silver-medalist Jake Gradinsky of Sedona.
Although Hoyt took home the gold, the Horns (418) had to settle for a third-place finish behind champion Sedona (409) and runner-up Phoenix Christian (416). Snowflake trailed the field with a 462.
The Horn scorecard included a 79 from John McDermott and an 81 turned in by Kelley. Kent finished with a 92 and Marrs a 93.
Following today's White Mountain Invitational, the Longhorns return to Snowflake April 17 for an 18-hole East region tournament.
April 19 and 20, the Horns travel to Mount Graham Golf Course for the 27-hole Safford Invitational. There, the Horns will see for the third time this season, a Safford team that is expected to have the firepower to possibly wrestle the state title away from the Horns when the 3A finals are contested May 6 and 7 in Wickenburg.
Last spring, Payson rallied from behind on the second day of the tournament to nip Safford for the 3A crown.