A crew of five players being counted on to bolster a Longhorn golf team hit hard by graduation tuned up for the prep season in the first round of Junior Golf Association of Arizona Thunderbird Classic.
The first round was July 22 and 23 on the par-72 Raven Golf Course near Phoenix.
Justin Shuman, Nathan Blanco, Bryce Danielson, Thomas Barkowski and Nathan Jones represented Payson in the 15-18-years-old regular division 60-player field.
Shuman led the Rim country contingent shooting an 87. Blanco (89), Danielson (95), Barkowski (107) and Jones (109) trailed.
The tournament champ, Justin Kirkman of Scottsdale, carded a 70.
When the prep golf season gets under way Aug. 31 at Scottsdale Chaparral, the five will be among a contingent asked to fill the shoes of three all-region players who graduated in the spring and have since taken their links act to the college level. Billy Bob Hoyt, Brandan Kelley and Troy Marrs earned All-Grand Canyon Region First Team honors last season.
Hoyt will play next year at the University of Hawaii, Kelley is enrolling at San Diego Point Loma and Marrs is bound for Harding University in Searcy, Ark.
The only proven veteran returning to the Longhorn fold is junior Brad Meyocks. Last fall, he earned all-region second team honors by carding a 78 and 94 at the Grand Canyon championships at Chaparral Pines.
Meyocks said he realizes the golf team has a tough test ahead trying to replace the services of a trio of the finest golfers to ever play for Payson High School.