Tuesday, August 21, 2012
- by B.B. Branton
For Steven Fox, his life has changed.
Within a three-hole span – about an hour by his watch – during the U.S. Amateur finals on Sunday the Tennessee at Chattanooga senior business major went from almost being a sure national runner-up to a “you cannot be serious” national amateur champion at Cherry Hlls (Colo.) Golf Club..
Jones, Palmer, Nicklaus … Steven Fox
O’Meara, Mickelson, Woods … Steven Fox
Verplank, Leonard, Kuchar … Steven Fox
Impressive national amateur champion foursomes on any given day and UTC is front and center.
His name – and deservedly so – will be forever engraved on the championship trophy next to many of golf’s legendary names.
From a myriad of congratulations and thanks for the good p.r. for the UTC golf program with an all but done national runner-up finish, to a world he was unaware even existed or could consider or fathom.
It was the ultimate sudden death.
Two down with two to play and having to win both holes to force a playoff, the two-time high school All-American from Hendersonville (Tenn.) High School, did the near impossible.
A birdie to win the Par-4 No.17 (35th of 36 holes) and then watch a four-foot “all but in for the national title,"putt rim out in disbelief for his opponent Michael Weaver of Cal-Berkeley as well as Fox and the national television audience and the tourney continued.
Another putt – a down hill 18-footer – found the bottom of the cup for a birdie on the 37th hole (No.1) to close one door on a miraculous round, yet open other doors to a world not even previously imaginable for the 6-foot-3, 150-pound Mocs golfer who had just won the school’s most important championship.
Invitations and Phone Calls: Fifteen minutes on the phone with Tennessee U.S. Senator Bob Corker … a call from the Golf Club of Georgia extending an honorary membership … to a spot in the World Amateur Championship in Turkey in September ... to being honored by his high school at a football or basketball game later this year.
A class act through all this new found fame, Fox has contacted all his professors telling them that he sincerely apologized, but he probably won’t be in class until sometime next week.
For all the other students at UTC – i.e. those that did not qualify for the U.S. Amateur – class started yesterday.
“I have so many requests for interviews and meetings and congratulatory calls and messages that I can’t even tell you what my exact schedule is for Tuesday and Wednesday,” said Fox in a phone interview on Monday night. “My older sister Ashley has been so great and helpful in returning messages for me and keeping me headed in the right direction.”
Lunch in Latrobe – Almost: One invitation – make that – the invitation he hated to turn down was lunch with the king – Arnold Palmer.
A lunch date today (Tuesday) in Latrobe, Pa. with the 1954 U.S. Amateur champion, had to be declined because “I cannot accept the free air fare due to NCAA rules and I did not want to ask my parents to pay for it since they have done so much for me already,” Fox stated.
I look forward to meeting Mr. Palmer at The Masters in April if not before,” Fox stated. “That will be a great honor.”
Ticket Punched to Three Majors: By earning a spot in Sunday’s final, Fox and Weaver have qualified for the U.S. Open (the final round is Father’s Day) and The Masters in 2013 and an additional invitation to next summer’s British Open for Fox since he is the U.S. champion.
Something to Tell Your Grand Kids: Not only does Fox receive an invitation to play in three Majors in 2013, but as reigning U.S. Amateur champion, Fox will be paired with the defending champions of three of the four Majors for the first two rounds - Bubba Watson at The Masters, Webb Simpson at the U.S. Open and Ernie Els at the British Open.
“I am thrilled and humbled to know that I will be playing with some of golf’s great pros,” said Fox.
From a putt missed to a putt made, Steven Fox has embarked on a life-changing journey. A journey with twists and turns and stops and detours that one cannot possibly imagine.
Yet a future lunch with the king just might provide wisdom, direction and a verbal road map for the UTC senior on his all-important pilgrimage.
Enshined at Cherry Hills: Fox will have his own display area in the club house at Cherry Hills Golf Club ... adjacent to other champions including Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and the late Lew Oehmig of Lookout Mountain who won the U.S. Senior Amateur in 1976.
Current Day Samson: While Old Testament judge Samson gained strength from the Lord due to his long hair and won batlles with the Philistines, Fox let his beard grow and took down the world's No.1 amateur in Chris Williams in the round of 16 and defeated Cal-Berkeley teammates Brandon Hagly and Michael Weaver in the semis and finals, respectively.
"I trimmed my beard before I went to Colorado, but did not plan to stay as long as I did and did not take a razor," said Fox. As of Monday night, Fox had not trimmed his beard.
contact B.B. Branton at firstname.lastname@example.org