Hoyt Challenges State's Best In Laveen

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Receiving a bid to participate in the prestigious JGAA Thunderbird Invitational was a sweet treat for young golfer Billy Bob Hoyt.

Laying icing on the cake was his sixth-place finish in the tournament field that featured 32 of the best 15- to 18-year-old golfers in Arizona.

In the invitational Feb. 8 and 9 at Aguila Golf Course in Laveen, Hoyt finished with a two-day total of 145 to finish 10 strokes off the winning pace of Tucson's David McDaniel.

At the conclusion of the first day of play, Hoyt was tied for second with a 3-under-par 69.

According to his father and coach Bob, Hoyt would have been one stroke better and tied for the first-day lead if he hadn't narrowly missed a birdie putt on No. 18.

On the second day of play, Hoyt's putting unraveled as he finished with a 76.

"He couldn't get anything to drop," his father said.

Although Hoyt didn't attain his goal of a top-three finish, he did outplay two of the most acclaimed young golfers in the state.

Sedona's Jake Grodzinsky, who will be playing for Duke University next season, finished 10th with a card of 148.

Class 5A state high school champion Ryan Brooks, who also is moving on to Division I collegiate play, was 14th with a 153.

Next up for Hoyt is a Tucson JGAA qualifying tournament that would earn the teen a berth into a Tucson open professional tournament.

"Only two spots are available from the qualifier," his father said.

"Even if Billy Bob doesn't qualify, and the chances are slim, (the tournament) will be a great learning experience."

In addition to playing on the JGAA circuit, Hoyt is a member of the Payson High School golf team that is currently in preseason training for the spring campaign.

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