An obviously very talented Payson Longhorn golf team has qualified for the sport’s version of the “Big Dance” when it tees off at the end of the regular season in May.
Just one month into the campaign, the team nailed down the Division III state invitation by carding its fifth qualifying score in a nine-hole, five-team match on March 22 at Snowflake Golf Course.
While official records are not kept concerning how quickly teams qualify for state, the Payson links crew needed only the minimum number of matches to meet the AIA requirements.
In playing the Lobos’ home course in a “play five (scores), keep four” format, the Horns ran away with the title, posting a 150.
Snowflake, a longtime Longhorn nemesis, finished second at 157.
Show Low (169), Holbrook (184) and Blue Ridge (187) trailed the two leaders.
Individually, Payson’s Anthony Smith was on fire, lighting up the course for a two under par 34, which represented his best-ever nine-hole score.
Smith’s score also earned him co-medalist honors along with Snowflake’s Jordan Henderson who formerly attended Payson schools before his family relocated to Snowflake just as he was entering PHS.
Longhorn Tyler Apps finished at even par 36 and Jeffrey Kelley posted a 39.
Mason Ridley and Kelsey Bossert turned in identical scores of 41 that were the lowest nine tallies of their prep careers.
Freshman Dean Harpe rounded out the Longhorn effort at 42.
While the Longhorns are obviously on a roll and could contend for state honors, PHS fans must hit the road to have any chance of cheering them on.
That’s because the Horns have already played their home matches at Chaparral Pines where the course has been treated and will heal throughout April.
“Unless something changes, we do not have any more home matches this year,” said coach Bret Morse.
The junior varsity team is in action today, March 27, at Pine Shadows in Cottonwood.