The hard-charging Payson High School golf team has played well enough this season for onlookers to cautiously predict the band of five could be a contender for the Division III state championship when it is played May 11 and 12 at Antelope Hills golf courses near Prescott.
The first indication the current team was indeed a special one surfaced just one month into the campaign when the team nailed down the post-season invitation by carding its fifth qualifying score in a nine-hole, five-team match at Snowflake Golf Course.
Some less talented high school teams are struggling to card a fifth qualifying score, which they might not get, as the season is winding down. But the Horns qualified early and everything now is icing on the cake.
The team’s impressive run through prep golf continued April 24 at Torreon Golf Course where the Horns shrugged off Show Low’s home course advantage to muzzle the Cougars 152-161 in a nine-hole match played on the par 36 front nine Tower Course.
For Payson, Tyler Apps and freshman Dean Harpe carded even par 36s to trail only tournament low medalist Austin Smith of Show Low who finished two under at 34.
Also for the Longhorns, Jeffrey Kelley and Anthony Smith both posted cards of 40.
Mason Ridley’s 45 rounded out the PHS attack.
The Horns’ next opportunity to fine tune their game for state is May 3 when the linksters travel to exclusive and scenic White Mountain Club for a tournament.
In junior varsity action, the team wrapped up what varsity coach Bret Morse is calling a “successful season” on April 24 at Torreon “handily defeating” Blue Ridge, Show Low and Snowflake — all rivals from the seasons the four teams were members of the now defunct 3A East region.
For Payson, Kelsey Bossert and Tod McCarthy tied for low medalist honors with identical scores of 45.