A tie for seventh at the prestigious American Junior Golf Association Heather Farr Classic might be the ticket Billy Bob Hoyt needs to realize his goal of earning a college scholarship.
According to Payson High School golf coach Bret Morse, the AJGA tour is the hot spot where aspiring young golfers can showcase their skills in front of college coaches and recruiters.
The mission statement of the AJGA states the organization is "dedicated to the overall growth and development of young men and women who aspire to earn college scholarships through competitive junior golf."
To participate in the elite tour, golfers must qualify in a series of warm-up matches.
Hoyt earned his berth to the Heather Farr Classic by tying for second with a 144 at an AJGA tournament April 13 at Vistal Golf Club in Phoenix.
With the silver medal in hand, Hoyt returned to Vistal April 18 to 20 to try battling 144 of the country's best young golfers.
In the Classic field were youngsters from Colorado, California, Utah, Illinois, Florida, Washington, Hawaii, New York and Canada.
On the par 70 Vistal course, Hoyt finished with a 73 on the first day and a 70 on the second. His 36-hole total of 143 tied him for seventh place with eight other golfers.
Event champion David Yoon of Irvine, Calif., carded a 134.
Sedona's Jake Grodzinksy, a frequent competitor of Hoyt on the high school circuit, finished one stroke in front of the Longhorn golfer. Grodzinksy has received a college scholarship offer from Duke University.
For Hoyt, the experience of competing in his first AJGA event left him in awe.
"It was totally different than any other (matches) because it was so top notch," he said. "Everyone playing was so good, they were the best (golfers) there is."
The event also afforded Hoyt a new appreciation of the golfer the Classic was dedicated to.
"Heather (Farr) was an incredible golfer at every level (she played)," he said.
A four-time All-American at Arizona State University and a former AJGA's Player of the Year, Farr was diagnosed with cancer at age 24. She lost her courageous fight to the disease in 1993.
After her death, the AJGA chose to honor Farr by naming the event after her.
The Classic program states "Like Farr during her junior golf days, the 144 competitors arriving at the Vistal Golf Club this week have a bright and shining future. These are the stars of tomorrow. Like Farr, they will be influencing the game for years to come."
By finishing among the top-10 in the Classic, Hoyt earned a pair of all-important AJGA exemptions. In layman terms, the exemptions mean he can compete in two upcoming association tournaments without having to qualify.
Hoyt is uncertain which two AJGA showdowns he'll use his exemptions in, but is pointing toward summer events in South Carolina and Las Vegas.
Although he is now firmly committed to the AJGA tour, Hoyt's main focus is on helping the Payson High golf team earn the school's second state championship. The finale is set for May 13 at 14 at Johnson Ranch in Queen Creek.
Following the conclusion of the prep season, Hoyt will return to AJGA play with a goal of playing in the association's major tournament of the season -- the Chrysler Boys' Invitational.