The Sedona Scorpion Invitational, which wraps up today (Friday) at Oak Creek Country Club, will provide the Longhorn golf team with one of its biggest tests of the regular season.
The 36-hole tournament, which teed off Thursday, has attracted some of the best high school teams in the state including defending state champion Sedona and last year's state runner-up Payson. Several other Class 3A state-ranked teams also are entered.
The Longhorns were primed for a sneak peak at highly touted Sedona when Payson traveled April 11 and 12 to the White Mountain Invitational played at Silver Creek and Snowflake. Sedona, the defending tournament champion, dropped out of the tournament at the last moment.
In the 16-team field, the Longhorns played their way to a third-place finish with a card of 669. Northwest Community Christian (659) was first and host Snowflake (660) took runner-up honors. Fountain Hills, a team expected to battle for 3A state honors, finished fourth, one stroke (670) behind the Longhorns.
At the conclusion of the first day of play on the Silver Creek course, Payson stood third with a 319.
Northwest (314) led the opening-day chase by a single stroke over Fountain Hills (315). Snowflake (325) trailed in fourth.
On day two, "(Northwest) held its place, Snowflake charged from fourth to second on its home course," coach Bret Morse said. "We did not move and Fountain Hills fell one stroke behind us."
Individually, Payson's Billy Bob Hoyt claimed low-medalist honors, posting a 151. On the opening day at the Silver Creek course, Hoyt tallied a one-under par 70. At Snowflake, he carded an 81 on the par-72 course.
His eight-over-par two-day total was one stroke better than that of runner-up David Pauley of Fountain Hills.
In the 80-golfer field, Brandan Kelley finished ninth at 164 (82 and 82).
"The 82 on the second day was a good round based on the (cold, windy) conditions," Morse said.
Longhorn Troy Marrs turned in a 79 on the first day that had him tied for sixth-place. His 91 on the second day dropped him to a 170 and out of contention. Payson's fourth golfer, Kyle Kent, tallied a 184 (89 and 96).
While weather conditions were poor on the second day of the invitational, winds did not reach the 35-40 mph gales that all but halted a regional meet played April 2 at Silver Creek.
"We modified USGA rules because the ball was blowing on the greens," Morse said."We ended up playing best ball on one side and a scramble on the other side. The tournament should have been canceled."