CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. – Chattanooga senior Steven Fox advanced all the way to the quarterfinals in the U.S. Amateur at historic Cherry Hills Country Club on Thursday. Fox won two matches, and both went to the 18th hole.
In his morning match in the round of 32, Fox took out what Golf Digest says is the most talented golfing doctor in the country, Douglas Hanzel, who practices pulmonary medicine in Savannah, Ga. and carries a plus 2.3 handicap at The Landings on Skidway Island.
Fox led 2-up after No. 14, but Hanzel fought back to square the match with a birdie at No. 14 and a par, to Fox’s bogey, at No. 16, a 443-yard par 4. Fox won the match 1-up on No. 18 with a bogey.
In the round of 16, Fox turned back a player he’ll run into again this season in the Southern Conference Championship – the College of Charleston’s Zack Munroe. The match was all square heading into the 17th hole, a 545-yard par 5, but Fox broke the deadlock with a par at 17 and won No. 18 for a 2-up victory.
Fox has had a nerve-racking week at Cherry Hills, where Arnold Palmer won the 1960 U.S. Open, Hubert Green won the 1985 PGA Championship, Phil Mickelson won the 1990 U.S. Amateur and Jack Nicklaus won the 1993 U.S. Senior Open. But Fox – who battled through a playoff just to make match play – is uniquely suited to handling pressure.
“Fox has got one of the best golf attitudes I’ve ever seen,” said UTC coach Mark Guhne. “Not much fazes him. He’s the only person I know that whatever happened five minutes ago never happened. He’s a tough kid. It doesn’t surprise me at all to see him go into a playoff (to make match play) and then to advance as far as he has.
“Whenever everybody else is living and dying with the pressure of every golf shot, he just plays. That kind of attitude works great in match play. Getting 1-down doesn’t bother him. It’s hard to change the momentum on Fox. He just doesn’t seem to care, which is a great personality trait.”
Fox’s opponent in the quarterfinals is Chris Williams, a senior at the University of Washington who has put together a decorated college and amateur career. Williams, the world’s No. 1-ranked amateur, earned the Phil Mickelson Freshman of the Year award in 2010 and first-team All-America honors in 2011 and 2012. Fox played on the 2011 U.S. Walker Cup team and the 2011 and 2012 Palmer Cup teams. He also played in the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional.
By comparison, Williams has breezed through the bracket, winning 3 and 2 in the first round, 5 and 3 in the round of 32 and 3 and 2 in the round of 16.
Fox has had a solid showing in USGA events this summer. In July, he lasted until the round of 16 at the U.S. Amateur Public Links at Soldier Hollow Golf Course in Miday, Utah.