Tyler Apps is following in the footsteps of some of Payson finest young golfers including Billy Bob Hoyt, Brandon Kelley and Troy Marrs.
The three former Rim country athletes starred on the local youth circuit before leading the Payson High School golf team to a state championship.
After graduating in 2004, the trio took their talents to the collegiate level.
Although Apps, a sixth grader at Rim Country Middle School, has a few years remaining before he can compete for the Longhorns or vie for a college scholarship, he is already showing signs of having the same ability as Hoyt, Kelley and Marrs.
The 11-year-old showcased his skills the past two months on the U.S. Kids Golf Winter Tour series in Phoenix. He eventually earned a fourth place finish in the battle for Player of the Year honors.
That effort earned him a berth in the tour championship held Feb. 11 and 12 at Aguila Golf Club.
In the field with Apps were qualifiers from Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona.
"The talent level was unbelievable," said Tyler's father, Marc Apps. "The 11 year olds played the course from over 5400 yards and the scores were low."
Apps finished third in the elite field, carding a two-day total of 168 (87 and 81).
"Considering the level of competition, he was thrilled," Marc Apps said.
The standout showing was nothing new for the fledgling golfer.
Last year at the PGA Southwest Section championship in Snowflake, Apps won his age division championship, carding a one-under-par 35. Also in a southwest tournament at Pine Meadows in Heber, he was first in his age group.
At the Four Clubs Challenge at Mountain Shadows in Paradise Valley he was fifth. Among the 28 golfers who qualified for the 2004 JGAA Fall Classic at the Lakes in Ahwatukee, Apps tied for sixth.
What renders Tyler's foray into youth golf play rewarding for Marc is that he is allowed to caddy and coach his son on the course.
"That makes a family outing out of it," he said.
Tyler said he plans to continue improving his skills by playing this spring and summer on the U.S. Kids Golf and the JGAA Southwest Section tours.