Tyler Cooper was on his way back to Tucson from Mesa and was waiting for a call, a text message, something.

The Rincon/University senior had just wrapped up play at the Dobson Ranch Invitational on Oct. 8. When he left the course he was in first place.

"The team had to get back to Tucson, so we left before the tournament was over," Cooper said. "Finally, as we were on the highway, I got a text message, and it was from a coach, and all it said was, 'You won.'

"To this day, I still haven't seen the trophy. I have no idea who has it. I'd like to get my hands on it someday."

There's another trophy Cooper would like to get his hands on even more: the state championship trophy. He'll have a chance this weekend at the Division I state tournament at Dell Urich.

The senior had a nine-hole scoring average of 36.39, which was in the top five in Southern Arizona all season. His success this season included the win at the Dobson Ranch Invitational, which had a field of 120 of the state's top golfers.

Cooper and his coach, Red Morrow, aren't surprised by Cooper's success this season, but they're among the few.

Cooper didn't play high school golf last season after playing his first two seasons at Sahuaro. His dad moved into Rincon's district, but Cooper took last year off and just played almost daily with friends and in individual tournaments.

"It wasn't hard to stay motivated because I've been doing it my whole life," Cooper said.

By age 3, Cooper was on the golf course with his dad, who used to cut clubs down for Cooper to use.

He was a scratch golfer when he was 15 years old and had his first hole-in-one when he was 16. It came on the par-4 16th at Fred Enke.

"I was with two friends," Cooper said. "One hit his ball left, one hit his right. When we walked up, I'm like, "OK, where's my ball? There's no way I flew it over the green. I looked in the hole, and there it was.'"

So although Cooper hasn't been tearing it up on the high school circuit the past four years, Morrow knew what type of golfer he was getting.

"I knew he could come right back and be a great success story," Morrow said. "He's a blast to be around. He's very enjoyable and really has a great knowledge of how to move the ball around the course."

Morrow is hopeful he can hook Cooper up with a college program (likely a junior college where Cooper could work on his game and academics), and a strong showing this weekend would certainly help.

He's hoping his familiarity at Dell Urich will help. He has shot as low as 66 on the course and has played it "hundreds of times."

"I'm really looking forward to it," Cooper said.

"I think if I go out there and make some shots early and get my confidence up, I'll be able to make a run."

State Golf Schedule

FRIDAY (opening round)


Division I, 10:45 a.m., at Dell Urich

Division II, 10:50 a.m., at Randolph North


Division I, 6:45 a.m., at Aguila Golf Course in Laveen

Division II, 11 a.m., at Aguila

SATURDAY (final round, same sites):


Division I and II, 7 a.m.


Division I, 11 a.m.; Division II, 7 a.m.