The Payson High School golf team takes a lofty No. 3 seed and a talented line-up to the Division III state tournament which beings today, May 11 on the north course at Antelope Hills near Prescott.
The tournament continues tomorrow, Saturday on Antelope Hills’s south course.
Veteran coach Bret Morse says he’s not sure what to expect in the state showdown mostly because the Horns will be pitted against some teams, including No. 1 seeded Yuma Catholic, which PHS has not played this year.
“Yuma Catholic is the defending state champions and they have all their players back from that team,” Morse said.
Scottsdale Christian, a No. 2, seed is also expected to contend for state laurels as is No. 4 Horizon Honors and No. 5 Valley Christian.
Morris predicts Phoenix Day could also be in the mix.
While the Longhorns are not the tournament favorites, the team takes to state some of Division III’s finest golfers including Jeffrey Kelley, Tyler Apps, Dean Harpe and Anthony Smith.
Harpe, only a freshman, won low medalist honors last week at White Mountain Country Club carding an even par 72.
In a season opening meet March 8 in Holbrook, Kelley shrugged off cold, blustery winds to lead the team with a one-under par 35.
On March 22 at Snowflake, Smith was on fire, lighting up the course for a two under par 34, which represented his best-ever nine-hole score.
Apps has turned in numerous outstanding performances in his PHS career and can be counted on to be among each tournament’s top finishers.
Those who have played Antelope Hills say the two course offer different challenges.
The historic North Course opened in 1958 and is a traditional tree lined course with small greens that require more accuracy than power.
“North might be the tough ones because it is larger and there are more mature trees,” Morse said.
The South Course was added in 1992 and is a more wide-open track with large greens and plenty of mounding which, players say, is a totally different experience than the North Course.