Monday, September 17, 2012
- by B.B. Branton
The Steven Fox world tour of golf continues at a fast pace and made a brief stop Monday at Finley Stadium for the weekly Chattanooga Quarterback Club luncheon.
Unless you have been playing pitch and putt in Kazakhstan or the moon the last few weeks, you are well aware that the UTC senior golfer won the U.S. Amateur championship a month ago this week in Cherry Hills, Colo. and put UTC and Chattanooga front and center in the golfing world.
Fox covered a few topics at the luncheon, answered several questions and shook hands and had pictures made with many in attendance.
Playing at The Masters: “It’s every amateur golfers dream to first qualify for The Masters and then to make the cut so you are playing on that final Sunday,” said Fox who because of his U.S. Amateur title has qualified to play in next years Masters, U.S. Open and British Open, including the first two rounds with the defending champions.
80 Practice Rounds at The Masters: Fox stated that, “pro golfer Brandt Snedeker (Vanderbilt grad) played 70 practice rounds prior to playing in the Masters the year he qualified by winning the 2003 U.S. Amateur Public Links crown.
“I want to play Augusta as many times as I can so maybe 80 rounds would be nice,” he said with a smile.
“I have an invitation to play Nov. 11 with the man who serves as the starter on the first hole during The Masters which is a great honor.”
World Amateur Team Championship: Fox and friends – Chris Williams of U. of Washington and Justin Thomas of Alabama – will represent the United States in the 72-team field in Antalya, Turkey, Oct. 4-7. Williams and Thomas are ranked Nos.1 and 2 in the world rankings, respectively, while Fox is No. 18. Fox, who was 127 prior to the U.S. Amateur, defeated Williams in the quarterfinals, 3-2.
France is the defending world champion as the U.S. placed third in the four-day stroke play event in 2011. The U.S. has won the world title 13 times since the tournament was established in 1958, the last coming in 2004, when Fox was in middle school in Florida.
Class Work, Golf and Seeing the World: “It’s been a crazy last few weeks with interviews and media requests, attending classes and trying to keep up with class work. My professors have been great about e-mailing me my assignments and knowing that I will miss class a good bit,’ stated Fox who is an honor roll student.
Heart and Soul of the UTC Team: “Steven is the heart of this team,” said coach Guhne. “He keeps the team loose no matter what is going on with his game.
“He can shoot an 82 and act as if he shot a 62. This is the way is conducts his life everyday.”
Excellent Community Support: “I am amazed at the great community support there is for Steven and our program as a whole,” said Guhne. “I can’t imagine coaching somewhere that football is king. It’s fun to be in Chattanooga which is such a great golf city.”
6,500 Golfers and Then There Was One: There were 6,500 entrants for qualifying for the U.S. Amateur …
“After the first day of regional qualifying in Knoxville, Steven was sixth among six UTC golfers and I let him no that,” said UTC men’s golf coach Mark Guhne (pronounced JUNE) with a laugh.
“The next round he shoots a 64 and is then one of 312 who advance to the Cherry Hills (Colo.) Golf Club and the U.S. Amateur.”
Fox then earned a spot in match play round field of 64 and was seeded No.63. He proceeded to win six matches and claims the most coveted title in all of amateur golf.
“If You Get to the Finals I’ll Be There” – Those were the encouraging words of coach Guhne to Fox prior to Fox heading to Cherry Hills believing that he probably wouldn’t see his coach until he has returned to Chattanooga.
Note: Guhne and UTC assistant coach Ben Rickett flew to Colorado Saturday Aug, 19 after Fox won his semifinals match. Rickett carried Fox’s bag the final 18 holes on Sunday afternoon after Fox’s dad, Alan, carried his son’s bag all week leading up to Sunday afternoon.
“My first goal was to make it to match play and then anyone can get hot and win it,” stated Fox.
“I don’t think it matters what your world ranking is or past accomplishments are once you get to match play.”
Match Play is His Favorite: “No question, match play golf is my favorite compared to stroke play. In match play, every hole is a separate tournament within itself. You can shoot a 13 and your opponent shoot a 3 and you are still only 1-down and you move on to the next hole.”
2-Down, 2-To-Go: Fox birdied No.15 (the 33rd hole in the 36-hole final) to pull within one, but Weaver birdied No.16 for a 2-up with 2 to play lead.
“At that point, I thought it was just Michael’s week and he was going to win, but as my dad taught me growing up never to quit.
“I then won 17 with a birdie and 18 is a really tough hole. Chris missed that short putt on 18 to win it and all of a sudden the match is all tied.
“On the first extra hole (Par 4, No.1) he uses a driver – he hit the flag stick with his drive earlier in the week and made eagle so I guess he thought he could get on the green again using his - but puts his ball to the left of the green in some high rough. I am in the fairway with a 6-iron off the tee, put my second shot about 20 feet above the hole (Chris needed two shots from the rough to get on the green) and I win it all with a birdie putt.”
U.S. Amateur champion - by far, the greatest sports accomplishment in UTC history and most likely in the city's sports history.
And life for Steven Fox has changed forever.
contact B.B. Branton at email@example.com