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Boys golf: Monarch’s Caleb Michaels is Daily Camera’s golfer of the year

Michaels won the 5A state title in October

DENVER — Monarch's Caleb Michaels stands with Fort Collins' Ian Hunn and Fossil Ridge's Austin Barry at City Park Golf Course in Denver at the Class 5A state golf tournament Tuesday, October 4, 2022.
DENVER — Monarch’s Caleb Michaels stands with Fort Collins’ Ian Hunn and Fossil Ridge’s Austin Barry at City Park Golf Course in Denver at the Class 5A state golf tournament Tuesday, October 4, 2022.

Monarch senior Caleb Michaels topped the high school golf world last month, finally winning the tournament that’d long frustrated him. The key had been redefining his own love for the sport — something he admitted often got lost when the results lacked. He did so with two sore wrists.

“I just took it hole by hole, and enjoyed it rather than freaking out after making a double bogey because I need to get to whatever-under par to win the tournament,” said Michaels, who after the season revealed he’d been playing in the fall with tendinitis in both his wrists.

“There was a little bit of pain in it, but the mental retreat that golf provided was definitely worth the sacrifice of some short-term physical pain.”

Michaels had won the Class 5A tournament in his fourth consecutive state qualification, making up five shots to rally past Day 1 leader Austin Barry of Fossil Ridge at City Park Golf Course in Denver. He’d finally quashed the demons at a place he’d previously finished tied for 28th, 17th and 21st.

As a large crowd gathered around the No. 18 green, he dropped in a 5-foot par putt to clinch it.

“To be 100% honest with you I had no idea how many people were around that green,” the Daily Camera boys golfer of the year said. “I really felt like that second day I was really in the zone and taking it one shot at a time and focusing on the task ahead of me. (It wasn’t until) walking off the green that I felt like I was walking through like 20 rows of people to get to scoring.”

His mom, dad and coaches were among the mob.

“Well, the whole thing has been a journey,” Coyotes coach Geoff Findley said in the moments afterward. “He was able to put it all together. He realized you can’t play emotionally. You have to believe in yourself and not give up, and that’s what he did.”

Monarch’s longtime ace will now turn his attention to the prospect of college golf.

The senior said he is talking to Towson University (Maryland), which has a Division-I program.  The Tigers finished their fall campaign at the Lehigh University Invite in Pennsylvania on Oct. 22, finishing fifth out 15 teams.

Michaels said he is also in communication with the coach at Fort Lewis (D-II). The Skyhawks roster is stacked with former high school standouts from the northern part of the state, including Kellen Kudrna (Mead), Traejan Andrews (Northridge) and the 4A 2021 champ Brentyn Paiz (Windsor).

Up next, Michaels — who has been taking some off to recover since the state tournament — is preparing to play in the American Junior Golf Association Amundi Evian Senior Showcase in the first week of December. The tournament is for high school seniors who have not yet committed to college, per the AJGA.