Georgia Southern’s Steven Fisk quietly rises to elite in college golf

AJ Henderson

Georgia Southern’s Steven Fisk quietly rises to elite in college golf

Men

Georgia Southern’s Steven Fisk quietly rises to elite in college golf

Editor’s Note: This story appeared in the Nov. 20 digital issue of Golfweek

The top of the men’s individual college golf rankings is a who’s who of big names from Power Five conferences.

Then there’s Steven Fisk.

The Georgia Southern junior won twice this fall (once by 12 shots), nearly posted college golf’s first 59 and has rocketed to No. 3 in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings after finishing 2016-17 at No. 131.

He’s the surprise of the fall – at least to those outside his team. Fisk qualified for the 2017 U.S. Amateur, where he missed match play by two shots. It was probably the worst he played all summer, and he still didn’t look out of his depth. It was, oddly, just the boost Fisk needed.

“I think he had a really good idea (then) that he belongs with the top amateurs in the world,” Georgia Southern head coach Carter Collins said.

Brett Barron, Fisk’s teammate and roommate, believed Fisk was a top-40 player last season. Fisk’s driving, short game and putting all have improved, as has his maturity, a series of incremental leaps that made a jump to the top-5 ranking possible.

How did Fisk put himself on that path? Self confidence.

Fisk, of Stockbridge, Ga., never has had a formal lesson in his life, and his homemade swing is something to behold – an action, Collins quipped, in which “there’s not one piece of his body that isn’t moving.”

But the coach also notes it’s a motion that has produced one of the best iron players he’s ever coached, and Fisk has never doubted his approach.

“I didn’t grow up looking at perfect golf swings,” Fisk said. “I just grew up on a driving range, beating balls, doing what felt good.”

That self-belief plays into his mentality: Fisk simply refuses to be beaten.

Barron sometimes notes to those curious that Fisk is someone who looks like he’ll shoot about 100 if you watch his swing on the range, then he’ll go out and beat you by 30.

In a team qualifier for the season-opening Shoal Creek Invitational, Barron was sure his jaw-dropping 69 in tough conditions would be the low total as his teammates came in with scores in the high 70s. He told Fisk he’d finally beaten him. Fisk’s response?

Ha, got you. 68.

On top of that, Fisk holes clutch putts so often, it’s almost a joke.

“Any putt that he has to make, he will,” Barron said.

Except for the one that could’ve made him Mr. 59 in college golf. Fisk was 12 under in his second round at the fall-closing Warrior Princeville Makai Invitational at the par-72 Princeville Makai Golf Club in Hawaii as he approached his 15-footer for birdie at the par-4 ninth (his final hole).

He hit the right-to-left putt as he wanted, and 2 feet from the hole he knew it was in. You just shot 59, he thought.

Then, somehow, the ball clipped the edge of a ball mark Fisk had actually fixed, kicked left and trundled past the left edge. For a moment in his mind, though, Fisk was Mr. 59.

“I don’t think I’ll ever lose the picture in my head of that ball 2 feet out, middle of the hole,” Fisk said.

With the way Fisk is playing, the memories are just getting started.

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