2001: Little-known makes a big statement

San Antonio

Adam Fuchs made the little guy in college golf quite proud last week in the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship at Pecan Valley Golf Club.

It was here that Fuchs, who will be a junior this fall at the small New York school of Binghamton University, showed that you don’t always have to play for a Division I program to be successful against some of the best amateurs in the country.

When the 156-player field at the Publinks was cut to the low 64, there were nine players in the lineup who had earned Division I All-American honors.

One by one they began to disappear.

D.J. Trahan (honorable mention) of Clemson and the defending champion, and Tom Johnson (honorable mention) of Northwestern bowed out in the first round. Hunter Mahan (second team), who is transferring from Southern Cal to Oklahoma State, and Camilo Benedetti (honorable mention) and Bubba Dickerson (third team) of NCAA champion Florida, were gone after the second round.

Nick Cassini (first team) and Erik Compton (second team) of top-ranked University of Georgia were eliminated in Round 3, and Houston’s Andy Sanders (honorable mention) was defeated in the quarters.

So when it got down to the semifinals there were two mid-amateurs and two collegians. One of the college players was Chez Reavie, who was an honorable mention All-American as an Arizona State freshman last season.

The other? You guessed it. It was Fuchs, the little Bearcat from Binghamton.

Reavie advanced to the final; Fuchs did not. Still, the 19-year-old from Plainview, N.Y., can hold his head high.

In the 36-hole, stroke-play qualifying he shot 1-under 141 to earn the No. 3 seed in the match-play portion. He won his first match, 2 up, and his second, 5 and 4.

In the quarterfinal he defeated U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Greg Puga of Los Angeles, 1 up. And, even though he lost his semifinal match, he took Danny Green, a U.S. Amateur runner-up and 1999 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, to the 18th hole before losing 2 up.

“Overall, I’m pleased with the way I played this week,” said Fuchs, who won three college tournaments last fall at Binghamton, a school that went from Division III to Division II two years ago and will move into Division I this season.

“I’m sure my coach (John Affleck) will really be proud of me. He’s always said I could play with the best in the country, and this week I proved to myself I can.”

Actually, Fuchs wasn’t as confident as his coach. Although he qualified for the Public Links, he also entered the Eastern Amateur in Virginia, which began the same day as the Publinks quarterfinals.

Fuchs had his bags packed, was checked out of his hotel and had a flight scheduled.

“This is one time that going through the hassle of changing flights, checking back into the hotel and letting the people up there (Eastern) know I wasn’t coming was worth it,” Fuchs said.

Fuchs’ major following at Pecan Valley consisted of his father, Steve, who was his caddie, and his mother, Cheryl, who was such a nervous wreck she couldn’t stand the pressure of following his quarterfinal and semifinal matches, opting instead to watch his progress at the main scoreboard.

But mom and dad were not alone. Fuchs had quite a following back in New York. Steve owns P.S.F. Shoes in New York City and said all the employees were following Adam’s progress – hole-by-hole – on the USGA’s Internet site.

There were other Fuchs watchers.

“All day, there must have been at least 15 of us, including our athletic director, glued to our computers following him,” said John Hartrick of Binghamton’s sports information department. “There is no doubt what Adam did will be a big boost to our golf program and to our university.”

Coming out of high school, Fuchs received a number of scholarship offers from Division I schools, among them Rhode Island, St. Johns, American University and the University of South Florida.

“I chose Binghamton because I felt it had the best to offer for my education and also because of coach Affleck. It’s a great school, and I have some great teammates and a wonderful coach.”

Fuchs will be busy the rest of the summer. The Monday after the Publinks he was going to try to four-spot qualify for the PGA Tour’s B.C. Open. Beginning the next day he would start play in the New York State Amateur. On July 25 in White Plains, N.Y., he’ll try to qualify for the U.S. Amateur, and then he’ll play in the Metropolitan Golf Association Amateur Championship Aug. 2-4.

Only now when he plays he’ll be much more noticeable. At the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, he earned that recognition.

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