Steven Fox captured golf’s U.S. Amateur Championship by winning the final three holes of his match-play final against Michael Weaver.
Fox, 21, trailed by two holes with two remaining in yesterday’s 36-hole final at Cherry Hills Country Club in Cherry Hills Village, Colorado. He made a 10-foot birdie putt at the 17th hole to pull within one and the match went to a playoff when Weaver’s five-foot par attempt for the win at the 18th hole caught the back of the cup and looped out.
Fox, a 21-year-old senior at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, sealed the win with an 18-foot, downhill birdie putt at the first playoff hole. He pumped his fist and shouted as the ball dropped and then hugged his father in celebration.
“I fought all day,” Fox said in a televised interview. “I had to keep pushing and just try and make birdie. This is amazing. This is a dream come true.”
Fox joins a list of U.S. Amateur champions that includes Bobby Jones, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus and, more recently, players such as Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ryan Moore, Ricky Barnes, Matt Kuchar and Justin Leonard.
Weaver, a 21-year-old junior at the University of California-Berkeley, knelt next to the first green with tears in his eyes and his head in his hands following the loss.
“That’s golf,” Weaver said in quotes distributed by the U.S. Golf Association. “I hit a good putt, hit my line. For it to lip out like that, I would rather just hit a bad putt.”
It was the first time the U.S. Amateur’s final match went to a playoff since 2003, when Nick Flanagan beat Casey Wittenberg on the first extra hole at Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania.
Fox was seeded 63rd out of 64 players to reach the match play portion of the competition and then won six straight matches to capture the title. He beat Chris Williams, the world’s top-ranked amateur, in the quarterfinals.
Both Fox and Weaver had been among the 17 players who competed in a playoff for 14 spots in the match-play bracket following 36 holes of stroke-play qualifying.
With the win, Fox receives an exemption into the 2013 British Open while both finalists qualify for next year’s U.S. Open -- provided they remain amateurs -- and may also get invites to the 2013 Masters Tournament.
“It doesn’t even feel real,” Fox said. “The whole week is like a dream to me.”