Golfers Play Well, But Don't Crack Top 3

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Although the Longhorns turned in a two-day total that was better than the score that won Payson the state championship last season, the squad had to settle for a fourth-place finish.

At the 17-team White Mountain Invitational contested April 12 and 13, the Horns finished the match with 621.

The only obstacles in the team's way of a better finish was that three other schools Sedona, Fountain Hills and Snowflake were red-hot.

With a 587, Sedona claimed the title over runner-up Fountain Hills (612). Snowflake was third, carding a 615.

The showings of Sedona and Fountain Hills came as no surprise to PHS coach Bret Morse. All season, he has argued that the two teams are the most talented in the 3A conference.

Snowflake's bronze-medal finish came as a mild surprise, but might be attributed to the fact the Lobos were playing on their home course and another that's only a few miles away from the school campus.

Morse said all of the teams shot outstanding rounds.

"We did not play poorly," he said. "In fact, we shot below our team average. It's just that Sedona, Fountain Hills and Snowflake played exceptional."

Sophomore Billy Boy Hoyt turned in Payson's best score, with a 145 that earned him a fourth-place finish. The first day on the par 71 Silver Creek Course, Hoyt tallied a 76. The following day at par 70 Snowflake, Hoyt finished one-under-par.

Brandan Kelley also turned in a solid effort, with a 79 at Silver Creek, and a 76 at Snowflake. He was the 12th-place finisher.

With a 20th-place showing, Kyle Kent (79 and 81) represented the final Longhorn medalist.

John McDermott's 161 rounded out the Horns' five-person scoring card.

If there was any good news in the White Mountain scenario, it was that the Horns edged out a longtime rival Safford in the final standings. The Bulldogs, who were state runners-up last spring, finished fifth with a 626.

But that doesn't mean the always-spirited clashes between the Dogs and Horns are at an end.

Today (Friday), Payson travels to Mount Graham Golf Course for the two-day, 27-hole Safford Invitational. Because the Dogs will be playing on their home course, Morse is predicting the team will be tough to beat.

The regular season wraps up April 23 at Oak Creek Country Club against Sedona and April 25 in an East region match at Pinetop Country Club. Both matches will be nine-hole events.

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