UPDATE MAY 16: Yesterday, May 15, Michael Cliff participated in the CIF Central Section Individual Championship for golf at River Island Country Club in Porterville. He shot 72 putting him in 4th place overall. All beating him by one stroke, Tyler Ashman, ‘18, from Buchanan, Brian Stark, ‘19, from Central Valley Christian (CVC) and Lane Pulliam, ‘17, from Hanford high school. Cliff is proud of his effort and is happy with his accomplishment, knowing that he tried his hardest.
Multi-schooler, Michael Cliff, ‘17, fired a career-best of 65 at Lemoore Golf Course Wednesday, May 3, to capture his fourth consecutive individual championship. Cliff’s total for the 36-hole championship was 134, allowing him to better runner-up Arjun Gill of Fowler by 48 shots.
The championship for Cliff comes just three weeks after he won the Len Ross Fresno City Junior Amateur Golf, contested over four rounds during spring break. He won that tournament by seven shots over some of the area best junior golfers, including Hanford’s Lane Pulliam, who will join Cliff as a freshmen on the Fresno State men’s golf team for the 2017-18 season.
Cliff’s score also allowed him to advance to the North Area Championship Tuesday, May 9, at Riverside Golf Course. In all three of his previous seasons, Cliff has advanced past Area to the Central Section Championship and then on to the Southern California Championship.
Should he repeat that accomplishment this season, he would be the first Central Section golfer in recent recollection including active Professional Golf Association (PGA) Tour players Derek Ernst and Bryson DeChambeau to do so throughout all four years of his high school career.
Golf coach, Jeff Hopper continues coaching for his eleventh year and appreciated all that Michael provides for the team.
“What Michael has done in his career from recent seasons is amazing,” Hopper said. “I am really impressed with him, especially with this season. All of his competition, both on our team and in the league he has advanced.
“He has set his own goals and met those high expectations,” Hopper continued. “More than that, Michael has worked beautifully with our three other guys, who are all new to the game. He teaches them and encourages them. He also has to watch out for their wayward shots!”
The golf team fluctuates in participants each year. However, Michael Cliff has remained faithful throughout his four years. His plans for next year are to play on the Fresno State men’s golf team.
“I have been playing golf for eleven years,” Cliff said. “Keep trying to improve and get better and better. When I compete in golf tournaments, I feel pretty good about my accomplishment. It makes me feel more confident about my game and makes me know that I can compete with the best of the best.”
“I don’t play any other sports, I would rather focus on golf,” Cliff continued. “All year round I work hard on improving and perfecting my golf skills. My goals that I have set are to win player of the year for golf this year, continue to improve and get better, and shoot my lowest score possible every time I play. I’ve been playing since my freshman year for Fresno Christian and each year has been a great experience.”
Three out of the four golfers on the team this year were brand new to the game. One of those new teammates was Blake Deffenbacher, ‘20, who thought that this season was a time for learning the game and improving his skill.
“Playing on the golf team this year was a great experience because it allowed me to excel in a sport that I enjoyed before but wasn’t very good at,” Deffenbacher said. “By joining the team, it made me a better player and taught me great life lessons. Starting out this year I didn’t really know what I was doing, and because of that, I got to adventure into all of the backsides and out of bounds areas of golf courses.
“The skill level of Michael is so outstanding that I looked at him almost like a coach,” Deffenbacher continued. “He always knew how to fix stuff and what to do to help me be the best I could be. Next year, since we won’t have the best golfer in the valley, we will have less of a gap in skill between our first player and the second and third players. Another thing we will be missing is a role model and mentor that always helped us improve our game.”
Next, Cliff moves on to SoCal regionals in Pasadena which will take place, May, 25.
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