By Torleif Sorenson on 8/20/12
The 36-hole championship final of the men's 2012 U.S. Amateur championship came down to two 21-year-old college players, both of whom had to survive a 17-for-14 playoff just to get into match play. But University of Tennessee-Chattanooga senior Steven Fox also had to defeat the #1-ranked amateur in the world (Chris Williams) in the quarterfinals to get there.
Michael Weaver of Fresno, California (University of California-Berkeley) led Fox for most of the day, including a 2-up lead at the lunch break.
In the afternoon, Fox managed to cut into Weaver's 2-up lead twice, but Weaver regained his lead each time. Fox won the 33rd hole with a birdie to go just 1-down, but then gave it back at the 34th.
Weaver had Fox dormie as they both decided to lay up at the 35th, a devilish par-5 that architect William Flynn designed with an island green back in 1922. Fox coolly drained a 8-footer for birdie, leaving Weaver just 1-up going to the final regulation hole. On the 36th hole, Fox found the right rough off the tee, but both players found the left side of the green with their approaches; Weaver conceded Fox's tap-in for par. But with Weaver 1-up and the championship just an eight-foot par putt away, he shockingly overpowered his putt, lipping it out left-to-right.
The unexpected playoff began on the first tee-box, from which Arnold Palmer famously drove the green in the final round of the 1960 U.S. Open Championship. Fox wisely took danger out of play:
[I] hit 5‑iron in the morning round and decided to hit six and lay up a little bit, and then adrenaline kicked in and [I] had 70 yards...Surprisingly, Weaver broke out his driver, which he then overcooked hard-left to a trampled-upon patch beyond a cart path near the second tee. Attempting to wedge to the green through a narrow opening between a tree and a USGA tee sign, Weaver stubbed his pitch into the deep rough short of the green. Sadly, he then foozled his birdie chip, which landed at least 15 feet short of the hole. Fox then gently tapped a slippery downhiller for birdie, which slowly-but-surely crawled home.
With an exclamation point, Steven Fox took home the U.S. Amateur Championship, which also qualifies him for a tee-time with Bubba Watson on Thursday, April 11, 2013 - at the 77th Masters Tournament.
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