Rocky Road For Clifton At K’zoo Amateur

NGAWire® | 25Jun07

This past weekend longtime NGA member Ron Clifton competed in the 2007 Kalamazoo County Amateur.

He opened the tournament at Eastern Hills GC.

“As for today I went to the Milham Park Arts & Craft fair with the kids from 10-11, then Ginger took them for the day. I got to Eastern Hills and heard about the 15 minute delay, ran home quick to check on Pluto, then back for my routine, hit balls, chips, putts, then waited for the actual 40 minute delay. I exchanged cards with what I thought was the competition in my group. He shot 41 on the front to my 42. The 3rd best player in our group ended with 3 or 4 pars in a row, I didn’t see him coming. The guy I had my eye on proceeds to make a 12 on 10 (par 5), then a triple on 11 (par 3), he is done. The #3 guy keeps making pars, he and I tied actual but he is a 15 so he is 2 back, also in the last group of 2nd flight. He shot 84 and 86 last week, so we are close in score but not in handicap.”

Clifton ends up firing a very nice 84. This was an excellent start for him.

“Today I had a birdie putt on 1, 2, nearly chipped in for birdie on 4, birdie putt again on 6, and 9, and 10, another on 12, and 14, on 15 I had 100 in out of rough down in a hollow up again wispy grass, I went under a wedge as I heard the sound of a driver on adjacent tee, I re-grouped chipped it up and made a 5 footer with a foot of break for bogey (key save), birdie chances again on 17 and 18. Notice I didn’t make any birdies, mostly walked away with par, one or two 3-putt bogies, only 1 double.”

His score placed him atop the 2nd flight leader board after day one.

“I don’t know how the guys on tour can sleep on the lead, a major must be gut wrenching. I made it to the barbeque, had 4 beers, some brats and rice, beans and fajitas. I am feeling good. I tee off at 8:54 in the am last group of 2nd flight.”

The next morning Clifton heads to Milham Park GC for the 2nd round. His playing partners are Craig Tenant, Christopher Moffat and Royce Wiggington.

“I shot 95 today, net 78. I predicted that would take me from 1st to 8th walking off 18 green, I finished 7th alone. I had to shoot another 84 to beat Royce. I played with the winner, 3rd, and 4th. One could say I got steam rolled.”

Unfortunately he was not able to follow up yesterday’s performance.

“Trying to keep the good carma going from Saturday to Sunday, I wore the same baby blue BMW visor both days, with the 2006 TPC hat bill ball marker. I used my Arcadia Bluffs divot repair tool, and the 2001 red hat pin converted to ball marker in my pocket as a good luck piece. I wore the same shoes, a red Nike shirt hoping to channel Tiger. Unfortunately none of this worked! As time goes on it isn’t setting too well. I may have choked! A repeat performance of the FOA league finals and 1999 TPC. Hopefully this experience will help me in the future.”

Though he was disappointed in his performance, Clifton surely gained valuable tournament experience.

“It was an enjoyable and affordable tournament. I gave it my all, slept poorly, up early, to course early, hit bunker shots, wedge shots, hit small bucket, chipped and putted. I can tell my grand kids I was the overnight leader of the K’zoo Am and I teed off as the leader. I considered wearing my Poulter pants, they might have helped me. These past few weeks my range work had been trying to get the club more behind me. Saturday as I warmed up for the round I was shanking shots, so I chucked that routine and went back to my natural feel for the game of golf. That produced the 84 Saturday which was good. Sunday I think it was the 6 inches between my ears and the 18 hours with the lead.”

We all wish Clifton better luck next time.