Fox storms back to win U.S. Amateur
CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. – It’s happened so often that they’ve coined a term for it. A bad pun indeed, but being “Foxed,” is being beaten in an improbable manner by gangly Chattanooga senior Steven Fox. He pulled off another late and unlikely rally Aug. 19, this time to win amateur golf’s biggest prize, the Havemeyer Trophy.
Fox holed a 15-foot birdie putt to beat Michael Weaver on the 37th hole of the U.S. Amateur final at Cherry Hills Country Club. Fox won despite being 2 down with two holes remaining, making birdie on the par-5 17th and watching as Weaver missed a 5-foot par putt for the victory.
“This doesn’t even feel real,” Fox sad. “This whole week feels like a dream to me.”
Fox hit 6-iron off the tee on the short par-4 first – the match’s first extra hole – then hit his 70-yard approach past the hole. Weaver, hit driver well past the first green and over the second tee. His 50-yard pitch shot didn’t reach the green, and his third shot was 10 feet short. He could only watch as Fox’s putt trickled down the slope and into the hole. It was the first time Fox had led since the fourth hole of the morning round.
“We just wanted to cozy it down there for par, and I just tapped it,” Fox said of his winning putt, “and luckily it found the hole.”
Fox was 2 down with four holes remaining, but he won the 153-yard, par-3 15th after his 15-foot birdie putt fell on the last drop. Weaver responded by making a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-4 16th to regain his 2-up lead. Both players laid up on No. 17. Weaver putt first, running his birdie putt about 5 feet past the hole. Fox, needing to win the hole to keep the match going, holed an 8-foot birdie putt.
He hit his drive on the final hole into the right rough, while Weaver hit a perfect tee shot down the left side of the fairway. Both players hit the green in regulation, leaving themselves about 40 feet for birdie. Weaver putt first, his birdie putt finishing some 5 feet below the hole. Fox hit his birdie putt to one foot. Weaver’s par putt hit the lip and made a 90-degree turn.
“I thought I made my putt on 18,” Weaver said. “This one slipped through my fingers.
“I still can’t believe what happened.”
Even Fox said he gasped when Weaver’s putt lipped out.
Fox survived several close calls just to make it to the U.S. Amateur’s championship match. He had to shoot 64 in the second round of his sectional qualifier to avoid a playoff by a single stroke.
He holed a 10-foot par putt just to advance out of a playoff for the final spots in the match-play bracket, earning the No. 63 seed in the 64-man bracket. Three of his five matches before the final went to the 18th hole; he won the hole all three times. He also won it on the final match’s 36th hole. Fox’s road to the championship also included a 4-and-2 quarterfinal victory over Washington senior Chris Williams, the world’s No. 1 amateur.
“My goal was just to make it to the match play, ... being my first Amateur,” Fox said. “And I just kept going and kept fighting.”
Weaver was 2 up after the final’s morning round. He also three-putted the 18th to close the morning, missing a 4-foot par putt after Fox already had missed an 8-footer for par. Fox had won the previous hole after Weaver hit his second shot into the water fronting the island green.
Fox switched caddies after the morning round, replacing his father, Alan, with Chattanooga assistant coach Ben Rickett. Fox said having Rickett on the bag helped him focus more on his target for each shot. It showed. “I definitely thought it was (Weaver’s) day,” Fox said, “and then it switched.”
And Fox’s name will be forever etched on the Havemeyer Trophy after “Foxing” one more opponent.