Thursday, March 28, 2013
- by B.B. Branton
“It’s every golfer’s dream to play Augusta … This will be the greatest week of my life”
-- UTC Golfer Steven Fox as he anticipates playing the 2013 Masters Tournament
Two weeks from today – Thurs. April 11 – when the vast majority of The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga students are in class (or should be) – one noticeable absentee will be Mocs golfer Steven Fox.
But he has an excused absence signed by Augusta National Golf Club chairman Billy Payne.
While his classmates are discussing the relevance of the writings of Chaucer or Shakespeare or discovering new and better solutions to engineering problems, Fox and his caddy Ben Rickett (current Dalton College golf coach and former UTC assistant coach) will be discussing ways to avoid the mine fields located through the famous, yet treacherous Amen Corner, to trust his 6-iron as he hits for the flag at the famous Par 3 No.16 and how best to hit a 4-iron with or against the wind so as to stop the ball on the tough No.17 green.
“Most of the holes are set up to play right to left which is great for me since this type golf course best suits my game,” said Fox who qualified to play the Masters by winning the U.S. Amateur championship in Cherry Hills, Colo. last August.
“Of course, I am excited about playing in the Masters in a couple of weeks, yet I know it will be nerve- racking as I walk to the first tee on the first day,” stated Fox who has played eight practice rounds at Augusta since November with a best round of 2-under.
Nerve-racking might be an understatement as he not only will be hitting his first drive in his first Masters, but will also be playing with Bubba Watson, the defending Masters Champion and one other pro.
Goals For The Week: “At one time I said I wanted to make the cut so as to play on Sunday, but now I really don’t have any specific goals for the tournament other than play my game to the best of my ability and see what happens.”
Keys to Playing Augusta:
Steven Fox - “Be able to play the ball well right to left, have a good short game – which I have – and rely on your strengths. If you don’t have a good short game you could be in trouble.”
More Fox: “I am not a long hitter off the tee so I need to keep in in the fairways, trust my short game, get my par and move to the next hole.”
Ben Rickett: “Steven is a dead weight putter which is great for the fast greens at Augusta as you want your ball to reach the hole and fall in on its last turn. If you rely on the ball approaching the hole with any type of speed and it doesn’t go in, you could have a long putt coming back and that could present problems.”
More Rickett: “On your irons into the greens, you need to put yourself in a position to avoid those long 40-50 foot putts which probably translates into a long day … several greens are sloped and we have put in a lot of time practicing putting above and below the holes to avoid those long, long putts.”
Steven Fox Analysis of a Few Holes
No.1 Par 4 … 445 Yards
“The key for me on No.1 of course is to hit the ball in the fairway, avoid the bunker on the right and put
myself in position to hit a 6-iron into the green on my second shot.”
Masters Highlight: 2011 champion Charles Schwartzel makes birdie with a low-running pitch shot to start the final round on the way to the green jacket.
No.4 Par 3 … 240 yards
“This is a difficult hole so I will hit a hybrid … must avoid a bunker on the right and you can’t hit long and expect to make par.”
Note: Greenside bunkers left an right and wind can be deceptive
Masters Highlight: Jeff Sluman makes the only hole-in-one on No.4 in Masters history in 1992 as he hits a 4-iron 213 yards … shoots a 65 and a share of the first round lead
No.10 Par 4 … 495 yards
“This is a good hole for me as it sets up well for my draw right to left.”
Note: golfer needs to catch the slope of the fairway off the tee which shortens the hole.
Masters Highlight: Ben Crenshaw rolls in a 60-foot birdie putt in the final round and wins by two strokes.
Amen Corner (11-13)
No.11 Par 4 … 505 yards
“It’s really long so I need a good tee shot and then use a 4-iron or hybrid into the green.”
Note: A big tee shot is needed to get to the top of the hill … pond is left of the green and and a bunker is back left
Masters Highlight: Larry Mize chips in from 140 yards for birdie to beat Greg Norman in sudden death and wins the 1987 Masters
No.12 Par 3 … 155 Yards
“I’ll use a 7 or 8-iron and have to trust the wind.”
Note: shortest hole on the course … the famous Rae’s Creek is in front and three bunkers to avoid
Masters Highlight In 1992, Fred Couples’ tee shot is short of the green and stops inches from Rae’s Creek … he chips to within four feet, makes par and beats Raymond Floyd by two strokes.
No.13 – Par 5 … 510 yards
“It’s a really good par 5 and I have played it well in practice rounds … I can get there in two with a driver and 4-iron which could give me an eagle putt ... if not, I reach it in three and hope for a shot at a birdie.”
“If I lay-up in two, I can use by 60 degree wedge which is my best club or a special wedge which keeps the ball from bouncing a lot once it hits the green.”
Masters Highlight: In 2010, Phil Mickelson has a two shot lead on Sunday, but his tee shot puts him behind two trees … he hits a 6-iron to four feet of the hole … makes birdie and goes on to win his second green jacket.
No.16 - Par 3 … 170 yards
“I really like this hole as I almost had a hole-in-one, twice, a couple of weeks ago. I use a 6 or 7-iron and who knows maybe I can get that hole in one in two weeks.”
Note: Water on the left and two bunkers on the left … one of the most recognizable holes on the course as it is the start of the stretch drive to a possible victory.
Masters Highight: In 1986, Jack Nicklaus, 46, hits his tee shot to within three feet, makes his birdie and goes on to win by one shot over Tom Kite for his 18th major championship … In 2012, Bo Van Pelt and Adam Scott make holes-in-one.
No.17 – Par 4 … 440 yards
“The fairway is tight with trees on the left ... you have to be accurate off the tee and the face an elevated green which slopes away from your approach shot which makes it difficult to stop the ball close to the hole.”
Note: The Eisenhower Tree is down the left fairway.
Masters Moment: In 1960, Arnold Palmer birdies 17 and 18 as he defeats Ken Venturi by one shot and claims his second of four green jackets (1958-60-62-64)
No.18 – Par 4 … 465 yards
“The hole is much steeper from tee to green that is portrayed on television … so you need to hit it straight and as hard as you can … hopefully in the fairway, I’ll hit a 5-iron to the green from about 200 yards.
Note: uphill, dogleg left … two bunkers on the left off the tee ... green side bunkers in front and left …
Masters Highlight: In 1959, Art Wall Jr. birdies five of the last six holes, including a 12-footer on 18 to beat Cary Middlecoff by one stroke for his only major championship.
Ben Rickett’s Analysis: ‘Steven is an aggressive golfer and that’s okay at the right time ... yet he knows to play to his own strengths .. his wedge shot is fantastic .. his short game is good and as I said before you have to have a good short game at Augusta … we have put in a lot of time on chipping the ball and putting from the low areas on the greens.”
The Crow’s Nest: Six amateurs will be playing The Masters … and five of the six will be roommates in the 30’ by 40’ room will live in what is known as the Crow’s Nest on the Augusta National property.
“I will arrive on Saturday (April 6) to register, play a few practice rounds, participate in the par 3 tournament on Wed. April 10 and then get set to play the course on that Thursday.”
The Six Amateurs
Allen Dunbar (British Amateur Champ)
Steven Fox (U.S. Amateur Champ)
Tianlang Guan (Asian Amateur Champ)
Nathan Smith (U.S. Mid-Am Champ)
T.J. Vogel (U.S. Amateur Pub Links Champ)
Michael Weaver (U.S. Amateur Runner-up)
Augusta Hospitality: “I have played eight rounds at Augusta and everyone has been so nice to me and they treat me as though we have had a friendship for years. I was in awe when I arrived at Augusta National for my first practice round last fall. What can I say – it’s the Masters!”
“I used the same caddy during all my practice rounds which has been a tremendous help. He has so much knowledge of the course on where to hit certain shots whereas someone new to the course like me would have little idea on the keys to setting up the next shots.”
Leading Up to the Masters:
Steven Fox has a busy next two months ...
He starts April (1-2) in Jackson, Miss as the Mocs play in the Reunion Intercollegiate
On to the Georgia Cup … from Mississippi, Fox heads to the Golf Club of Georgia in Alpharetta for the Georgia Cup on April 4 … he and British Amateur champion Alan Dunbar compete in match play format in the 16th annual event … The USA leads 8-7.
2013 Masters (April 11-14): From Atlanta it’s on to Augusta, register Sat. April 6 and play a few practice rounds, the Par 3 tournament on April 10 and then tee it up on Thurs. April 11 .
Honorary Starters: Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player will be the honorary starters for the 2013 Masters Tournament on April 11.
Tee Times and Pairings: announced Tues. April 9 at noon EST
After The Masters …
SoCon Tourney (April 21-24): Back in class for a week and then to Daniel Island S.C. for the Southern Conference championship, April 21-23 (Sun.-Wed.)
The NCAA Regionals are May 16-18 followed by the NCAA Championship, May 28-June 2 in the Atlanta area.
Fed Ex St. Jude Classic – June 6-9 … TPC Southwind, Memphis, Tenn.
2013 U.S. Open – June 13-16 … Merion Golf Club, Ardmore, Pa.
2013 John Deere Classic – July 11-14 … Silvis, Ill.
2013 British Open – July 18-21 … Muirfield, East Lothian
2013 U.S. Amateur – Aug 12-18 … The Country Club, Brookline, Mass.
contact B.B. Branton at firstname.lastname@example.org