Horn State Express Derailed By Sedona's Record Pace


The two-day Class 3A state score card of 618 turned in by the Longhorn golf team May 13 and 14 would have been good enough in past years to win a championship.

But on the par 72 Johnson Ranch course in Queen Creek, the Horn tally earned only state runner-up laurels.


Members of the Payson High School golf team (top) accept the state runnerup trophy they captured May 14 at Johnson Ranch in Queen Creek. Golf team members are (left to right) Troy Marrs, Brandan Kelley, Tyler Danielson, Kyle Kent, Brad Meyocks and Billy Hoyt.

Defending champion Sedona's state record 592 nailed down the crown for the red hot Scorpions. The score broke the former state tournament record of 598 set in 1999 by Cactus Shadows at the Dove Valley course.

Sedona's determined march to the title was spearheaded by a longtime nemesis of the Longhorns, Duke University-bound Jake Grodzinsky.

The Sedona state champ shot a 5-under 67 for a 139 total to win the tournament's low medalist honors. Sedona teammate Sean Ernes, who out dueled Grodzinsky for the individual state championship last season, finished as state runner-up six shots behind the new champ.

For Payson, Billy Bob Hoyt finished third with an even par 148 (76 and 72) and Brandan Kelley placed eighth carding a 153 (79 and 74).

The duos efforts drew praise from PHS coach Bret Morse.

"Both played well on day-two and have carried us all season," he said.

Sedona's overwhelming victory was not a total surprise in prep golf circles. At the onset of the season, Morse predicted the defending champs would be a tough team to beat mostly because the Scorpions sported a veteran crew of players who had weathered the rigors of state tournament play.

The four, eye-popping scores that talented Sedona posted in the final round were a combined 1-under par.

Although Payson had to settle for second, the players' efforts during the two-day links showdown were lauded by Morse.

"Sedona ran away with it, but our young men rose to the occasion and played extremely well," he said.

At the conclusion of the first day of play, the Longhorns trailed Sedona by 10 strokes (315-305). Still in contention were Globe (321), Fountain Hills (322) and Seton Catholic (322). East schools Snowflake (sixth; 329), Show Low (ninth; 342) and Blue Ridge (12th; 357) were out of the running at the end of the first round.

Individually, Kyle Kent's 78 on day-one "helped keep us in the hunt," Morse said. Troy Marrs finished with an 82 to round out the Longhorn first day score card. Brad Meyocks' 87 was discarded in the "play five, keep four" format.

On the second day, Marrs' 75 was a performance he won't soon forget.

"It was his best tournament round ever," Morse said. "He really stepped up for us."

The Payson score also included an 82 from Tyler Danielson. Kent's 87 was discarded.

"Our team total (303) was our lowest 18 (holes) of the year and eight strokes better than Fountain Hills and Seton," Morse said. FH and Globe tied for third with identical cards of 633.

During the regular season, both Fountain Hills and the Tigers chalked up victories over the Longhorns.

With a second place showing, the Longhorns have finished as state champion or state silver medalist four out of the past five years.

"No other golf program can claim as good of recent record," Morse said. "We have begun a strong tradition."

With the high school season at an end, the players will turn their attention toward the Arizona Junior Golf Association summer circuit. The team is scheduled to gather one final time for the annual post season awards ceremony. The date and place for the gathering will be announced next week.

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