Steven Fox, 22, of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, won the 2012 U.S. Amateur Championship after surviving a 17-player playoff to reach match play and then coming from two holes down with two to play in a 37-hole final. He is sharing his thoughts on his first Masters Tournament with Thomas Bonk of Masters.com in this exclusive personal diary.
There are so many great things happening for me right now with the Masters coming up, but I wouldn’t even be in this position without the U.S. Amateur at Cherry Hills. The way that I won it was an absolutely great moment, since I was so fortunate to advance to match play by coming out of a 17-man playoff.
Being in the playoff, I didn’t think I would get as far as the finals. The two stroke-play rounds, I struck the ball fine, but I didn’t make any putts and the strong points of my game are putting and chipping. Then I made a bogey on the first hole in the playoff and kind of got lucky because I survived.
For how it all happened, no, I really never thought I would get that far. My goal was to make match play, just set an easy goal, and then go from there. And as the week went on, me and my dad kept discussing what we needed to adjust for the week and how we were going to prepare.
I was seeded 63rd, and when you’re the higher seed, everyone thinks you’re going to lose so you go out there and just have fun – whatever happens happens. There are no bad feelings. You’re not going to feel bad if you lose unless you play bad and just give it to him, but the pressure is off you.
So when I won the first match, it was awesome, just to kind of get my foot in the door.
I really didn’t even think about all that too much during the week, I just stayed ‘match per match.’ Once you make it to match play, if you want to think about it, there’s the 64 best players in the world and the 64th can beat the No. 1 seed. It’s not a big deal; it’s just who’s on that week, who’s on that given day.
My family is going to be at the Masters, including my mom Maureen and my dad Alan. He isn’t in the military, but we’ve sort of lived everywhere. He was in the tire business when he was younger. I was born in Greenville, S.C., moved to North Carolina, Ohio, Massachusetts, Texas, Tampa and now in Hendersonville (Tenn.) the last eight years. I started playing golf when I was 2 in North Carolina. Just swinging a stick in the back yard, a swing that somewhat resembled a golf swing. It went from there. My dad plays golf as well; he took up golf strictly for his job and stuff because they would always play on the weekends. He got me involved, took me to a driving range and then started my first tournament when I was 7. I actually won my first tournament.
That was actually a little too young for me to know golf was it for me. People have asked me about that before and I haven’t really had an answer.
The Amateur just kind of jump-started everything. It was a complete life-changer, I have a lot of opportunities now and I’m just trying to take advantage of them.
Some of the opportunities just kind of pop up in front of you. There’s an awesome photo of when I was out at Torrey Pines at the Farmers Insurance Open this year. I was on the putting green, a little kid in the candy shop, my first PGA Tour event. I was star-struck by everything. My caddie told me, ‘OK, Tiger’s coming up, you want to go watch some of that?’ I said, ‘Yeah, absolutely.’ So Tiger is at No. 10 and I just kind of walked inside the ropes and I had my putter with me. He was about to hit, and he just kind of glanced over at me, like, ‘Are we on the tee?’ because I had a club in my hand. I didn’t say anything because I didn’t know what to do. My dad actually got a perfect picture because Tiger was looking right at me. That was a cool part to that week.
And the really cool week is coming right up.