With each new outing, the defending state champion Longhorn golf team proves it has the links stuff to make a second successive run at the Class 3A crown.
One of the Horns' most impressive early season triumphs came March 11 in a four-team showdown contested at Chaparral Pines.
Battling against three of the teams the Horns will have to beat to win the East championship (Snowflake, Show Low and Blue Ridge), Payson ran away with the tournament title.
Carding 158 on the par 35 course, the Horns easily outdistanced the Lobos (178) Cougars (192) and Yellow Jackets (211).
In the "play five, keep four" scoring format, Payson was paced by sophomore standout Brandan Kelley who finished as low medalist with 37.
Also for Payson, John McDermott carded 39, Billy Bob Hoyt 40 and Jeff Higgins 42.
Kyle Kent was one stroke behind Higgins.
Coach Bret Morse praised the team's all-around effort.
"Our average was under 40, which shows consistent team play," he said.
During last season's run to the state title, Morse preached that top-to-bottom consistency was the key to success.
The Longhorns return to action March 21 in a 9-hole tournament against Phoenix Christian on the Raven Golf Course.
April 4 at the Rim Club, the Horns are slated to play host to Phoenix Christian, Sedona and Snowflake. Tee time in the 18-hole affair is noon.