Steven Fox Opens The Masters With 76

Thursday, April 11, 2013 - by B.B. Branton

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- 4/11/13 ---On his first day at The Masters, UTC senior Steven Fox - who shot 4-over 76 - felt good about his iron play and his overall swing, but disappointed with his putting.

"I hit my irons well and I felt confident out on the course, but my putting let me down," said Fox who is one of six amateurs in this year's field.

"I am off to the practice putting green and I feel I can putt better Friday and confident I can play on the weekend," Fox stated during media interviews.

Wearing a navy blue golf shirt emblazoned with the familiar UTC "Power C", the Hendersonville, Tenn. resident scrambled out of trouble to make par on No.1, bogeyed No.2, came back to even par with a birdie on No.8 and led Ian Poulter and defending Masters champion Bubba Watson at the turn.

A 10-foot par saving putt was a good start to the back nine, but then was 4-over for the final eight holes.

Bogey's at 11 and 12 and 17 and 18 put him at 4-over for the day.

Watson finished with a 3-over 75 and Poulter matched Fox's 76.

Leader in the Clubhouse: Twenty-nine-year-old Marc Leishman (Virginia Beach, Va.) is the leader in the club house at the 77th Masters as he carded a 6-under 66.

He opened with a bogey five on No.1, birdied Nos. 3 and 8 to go 1-under at the turn, before shooting a 31 on the closing 9 ...  35-31 - 66 ... He used a hot putter to string together four straight birdies on Nos.13-16.

While Leishman had a near perfect day - 7 birdies, 10 pars and 1 bogey - Fox's caddy Ben Rickett thought the UTC senior had a good ball striking day and will be ready for Friday

"Steven hit the ball well and played better than his 76 might indicate," said Rickett who is the Dalton College golf coach.

"He put the ball in the right places, but just didn't make the putts."

Friday Tee Time: Fox, Watson and Poulter tee off at 1:30 p.m.

"My mindset for tomorrow is good, the confidence is there and I am ready to go," Fox stated.

First Tee Nerves: "I was pretty calm on the practice range this morning, but the nerves did come up when I prepared for my first shot," Fox stated.

"I was in the rough with my tee shot, but I did get up and down for a par which helped."

The Six Amateurs

Tianlang Guan ...+1, 73

Steven Fox ... +4, 76

T.J. Vogel ...  +5, 77

Nathan Smth ... +5, 77

Michael Weaver ... +6, 78

Alan Dunbar ... +11, 83

Never Too Old ... 39-year-old David Lynn shot a 4-under 68 and is two back of Leishman ... Lynn is playing in he first Masters, missed the cut in three of 10 tournaments this year prior to the Masters with only one top 10 finish ... that being a tie for fourth at the Honda Classic.

Today, he was 3-under 33 at the turn and 1-under 35 on the back

Mom Controls the Tickets: “I am not able to control much else in my family, but I do control our two Masters tickets,” said Marilee Straza Thursday morning with a laugh.

The tickets have been in her family since the early 1950s and each year she decides which family members come on which days.

Marilee and husband, Jim, will be here today and Friday and one of their sons will walk among the dogwoods for the weekend.

“This is our 15th year coming to Augusta after my parents quit coming in 1998,” Marilee stated.

“My favorite memory was following Arnold Palmer the last year he played here (2004).”

Jim and Marilee’s daughter, Brittany, played four years at the U. of Florida was earned Academic All-SEC honors, was SEC runner-up as a freshman in 1999 and a semifinalist at the 1999 Women’s Public Links.

Rare Opportunity: Marilee’s dad, Jim Miller, was a comptroller for Caterpillar and before he retired had the rare privilege of playing Augusta National for a week due to the fact that the company president was a member of Augusta National.

You Know You Are in the South ... Two mini-Moon Pies are $1 at the concession stands.

Help Everywhere You Turn ... A myriad of volunteers  - always with a smile and "how are you?" - are seemingly omnipresent throughout the grounds to direct traffic, answer questions and even let you know if there are open toilets when one visits the bathrooms ...  at least it is that way in the men's restrooms . not sure about the ladies.


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