Payson High tuned up for this weekend’s Division 3 state golf tournament with another strong showing.
The Longhorns shot 474 to win the 27-hole White Mountain Invitational at Silver Creek Golf Course in Show Low on May 2-3 by 16 strokes over runner-up Snowflake (490). Show Low was third in the seven-team event with 491, followed by Lakeside Blue Ridge (492) and Phoenix Northwest Christian (506).
Golfers played nine holes on Friday and 18 on Saturday.
Payson had three of the top 10 finishers. Junior Dean Harpe was first with a 37-74—111. Junior Mason Ridley (40-80—120) finished sixth and freshman Mitchell McGuire (39-82—121) placed ninth. Harpe also won the longest drive contest with a monster 362-yard shot on No. 9 Saturday.
Also, sophomore Hunter Harrison, just promoted up from the junior varsity, fired an 81 on the final day, which featured 35-mile-per-hour winds, after struggling with a 51 for the first nine Friday.
“The highlights for me were not only the fact that Dean won and we had three kids in the top 10, but Hunter had a solid second day, which included a 37 on the back side, which is his career best,” said coach Denny Morse. “He shot the same score as Dean on the back nine. And this was his first varsity match.”
“Our four scored on Saturday were really solid with very windy conditions,” Morse said.
“Preparing for state this week, that was an important victory because we saw some of our young guys like Mitchell McGuire and Hunter Harrison step up big for the team. There are 14 teams in the state that qualified for the tournament and a lot more that didn’t.”
Harpe, Ridley, McGuire, senior Tod McCarthy and Harrison will be joined this weekend by junior Ben Myer, who missed the White Mountain Invitational to take his SAT.
The state tournament at Antelope Hills in Prescott is today and Saturday. The Longhorns tee off today at noon and are paired with defending champion Chandler Valley Christian, Yuma Catholic (which won in 2011 and ’12) and Scottsdale Prep, which are three of the teams expected to finish high in the tournament standings, along with Goodyear Estrella Foothills, Phoenix Country Day and Sedona Red Rock.
Valley Christian is the heavy favorite to repeat with everybody returning from last season and a strong freshman joining the mix. But Morse believes the Longhorns can contend with the best in the state after winning most tournaments they played this spring and finishing third behind Valley Christian and Estrella Foothills in the High Desert Invitational at Antelope Hills on April 25.
“We are definitely talented enough to finish with the elite teams in the state,” Morse said.