By Ron Balicki, Golfweek
There were plenty of good stories that
came out of amateur golf this past
season, exciting, happy
endings as well as disappointing, heart-
From Steven Fox winning the U.S.
Amateur, to Nathan Smith capturing a
record fourth U.S. Mid-
Amateur to a 14-year-old from China
qualifying for next year’s Masters -- and a
whole lot more
along the way.
I’ve been covering amateur golf at just
about every level for some 30 years and it
seems each year
provides its own share of interesting
stories, whether in victory or defeat.
Compiling a list of the best of them for
2012 was difficult, but here is a list of my
No. 1: Steven Fox, 21, of Hendersonville,
Tenn., and a senior at Chattanooga,
erased a 2-down
deficit with two holes to play and then
sank a downhill, twisting 15-foot birdie
putt on the 37th
hole to beat Michael Weaver and win the
112th U.S. Amateur Championship at
famed Cherry Hills
Country Club just outside Denver.
Stories of 2012
- No. 10: Guan
wins Asian Am | Read
- No. 9:
Peter Williamson's Summer | Read
8 Rhys Pugh's Comeback | Read
- No. 7:
Chris Williams' Western Am run
- No. 6:
Daan Huizing wins Lytham Trophy | Read
- No. 5:
USA dominates World Am Team | Read
Vogel wins U.S. Public Links | Read
Alan Dunbar wins British Amateur | Read
Nathan Smith wins 4th U.S. Mid-Am | Read
Steven Fox wins thrilling U.S. Am | Read
For Weaver, a redshirt junior at California,
it was a most heart-wrenching defeat. He
had a chance
to win it all on the 36th hole with a 5-foot
birdie putt. Then he -- and the large crowd
around the 18th green -- watched in total
disbelief as the ball seemingly fell into the
hole, only to
spin out of the cup.
Coming into the event, Fox wasn’t on
anyone’s list to hoist the Havenmeyer
Trophy as champion
when all was said and done -- himself
On the national scene, however, his most
notable performance came earlier this
summer when he
advanced to the Sweet 16 at the U.S.
Amateur Public Links Championship.
So, with a 103rd position in last season’s
Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings and a
127th spot in
the World Amateur Golf Ranking coming
into the week, there was no need to
consider Fox a threat
to become the 2012 U.S. Amateur
But time and again during the week he
overcame the odds against him, as he
displayed down the
stretch in that final match.
Fox had to make a 10-foot par putt on the
fourth extra hole to earn the No. 63 (of
64) seed from a
17-player-for-14-spots playoff to get into
He hardly raised any eyebrows in winning
this first three matches, not defeating
anyone higher in
the WAGR than No. 2,367 Doug Hanzel,
55, in the second round.
Then the 6-foot-3, 155-pound Fox made
everyone stand back and take notice as
he pulled off --
and most impressively for that matter --
the biggest upset in this year’s
championship. He stunned
world No. 1 Chris Williams, who earlier in
the month was the record-setting, 72-hole
medalist and champion at the Western
Amateur, 4 and 2.
A day later, Fox made his way into the
finals when he defeated Weaver’s
teammate Brandon Hagy, 2-up.
And in that final match he was a perfect
picture of never-give-up determination.
Until he made that
final putt, he had not held the lead since
the fourth hole of the morning session.
He’d get down but
was never out, that being most evident in
the last three holes.
Fox said that while he didn’t have overly
high expectations coming into the week,
he felt his game
was moving up the competition
“My goal coming in was to make match
play in my first U.S. Amateur,” Fox said
after claiming the
prestigious title. “Then I just kept going
and going. It’s awesome. I knew I could
compete at a high
level, I just wasn’t sure where that level
was going to be.
“This whole week is like a dream to me,”
Fox said. “This is unreal. I mean, it doesn’t
It was real and so is the fact that Fox, and
Weaver as well, earned spots in the
starting fields at
the 2013 Masters and U.S. Open. Fox also
gets a starting position in the Open
This was, by far, the story of stories in
amateur golf in 2012.