The off-season practice put in by Payson High School golfer Justin Shuman is paying dividends.
In a season-opening four-way, nine-hole match at Stone Creek Golf Club in north Phoenix, Shuman led the Longhorns to a runner-up showing by carding a two-over-par 37. Low-medalist Zack Baker of Scottsdale Chaparral finished an even par 35.
As a team, Payson finished second behind state top-five ranked Chaparral. The Scottsdale school finished at 145 and the Longhorns had a 161. Trailing the two leaders were Cactus Shadows (163) and Sahuaro (166).
The second-place finish came as a surprise because most of the Payson team had not played the Stonecreek course and the team was expected to struggle after it lost its four best players to graduation.
Coach Bret Morse said he was elated with the individual scores and the players' ability to perform well in unfamiliar surroundings.
"They showed some adaptability on the course," he said.
Trailing Shuman for Payson were Brad Meyocks (37), Nate Blanco (41) and Tom Borkowski (44). In the play five, score four format, Bryce Danielson's 48 was discarded.
Morse said the winning Chaparral team was excellent with a pair of team members finished with lowest scores of the tournament.
The past summer, Shuman traveled the state honing his golf skills in Junior Golf Association of Arizona tournaments.
At the Tucson City Junior Championships he wrapped up play tied for ninth-place. At the Kingman City Junior Championships, he carded a first round three-over par 73 that was among the best rounds in the fray.