Tuesday, July 29, 2014 · 4:53 p.m.

New putter helped UTC's Fox in World Amateur

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The 2012 USA World Amateur Team. (L to R) captain Jim Vernon, Justin Thomas, Chris Williams and Steven Fox. (Photo: Courtesy of USGA)

As a friend, teammate or family member, Chattanooga senior Steven Fox is as loyal as they come. That loyalty does not extend to his putters.

After making just about every key putt he had to have during his remarkable run to the U.S. Amateur championship in August, Fox soured on his center-shafted Rife putter less than a month later. He noticed the mojo had gone out of the Rife at the PING/Golfweek Preview in Atlanta in late September, so the call went out for a new putter.

“Down in Atlanta, we went to the PGA super store and called TaylorMade, and they sent me out a new putter,” Fox said. “Luckily, I got it before I went to Turkey.”

Turkey was where Fox, along with Chris Williams of the University of Washington and Justin Thomas of Alabama, competed in the World Amateur Team championship. Armed with his new flat stick, Fox shot 71-68-69 and tied for ninth as the U.S. won the title for the first time since 2004.

Fox’s new putter is a White Smoke MC-72 heel-shafted model with an offset shaft. Though dramatically different from the putter he used to win the U.S. Amateur, Fox loved it immediately.

“When I got to Turkey, I had confidence in (the new putter) right away,” Fox said. “Luckily it worked. The first day it wasn’t great, but I putted really well the last two days. I made a few 15- or 20-footers (for birdie) and a few good par saves that helped a lot.

“That putter will stay in the bag a substantial amount of time."

Maybe. Fox’s willingness to banish a putter is well known in the Chattanooga program.

“Oh, he’ll change putters daily,” coach Mark Guhne said. “I don’t know how many tournaments we’ve gone to and he bought a putter. We were laughing at one tournament this year that he’s bought a putter every year at that tournament.

“If he gets something he likes for a few days, his confidence goes up and he’ll make everything. When he stops making putts, he’ll change putters in a heartbeat. He’ll keep them all and go back to them from time to time, but he doesn’t mind changing.”

Even, it seems, in the middle of an important international tournament.

Except for the food—“We existed on Snicker’s bars, peaches and pasta with something that resembled meat sauce,” Fox said—the trip to Turkey was to his liking. He played good golf, enhanced his chances to earn a spot on the U.S. Walker Cup team and was able to win for his country.

“Walking off that 18th green the last day was an awesome feeling,” Fox said. “It’s been since 2004 that the U.S. won the tournament. It’s awesome winning it back for your country.”

Though he won’t miss another tournament for the Mocs this year, fall or spring, Fox will still be busy as he travels around the country taking advantage of playing opportunities that have come his way thanks to the U.S. Amateur championship.

His next extracurricular outing is the All-American Tournament Nov. 17-20 at El Paso (Tex.) Country Club. Though he didn’t earn All-America honors last season, Fox was invited to play after he won the Amateur. Fox will also take part in a Walker Cup practice session in Naples, Fla. in late December. And in January, he'll head to legendary Torrey Pines Golf Club near San Diego, where he’ll play in his first PGA Tour event, the Farmers Insurance Open.

Fox will also get to play in three of golf’s four major championships in 2013—the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open—but it’s an amateur event he’s got his sights on. The Walker Cup will be played Sept. 7-8, 2013 at National Golf Links of America in Southampton, N.Y. If Fox can build on his play at the World Team Amateur, he’ll have to be considered for a coveted spot.

“I definitely think he’s got a chance to make it,” Guhne said. “When you consider that he was playing against the top three players from all those countries (at the World Team Amateur) and he finished ninth, that’s pretty special.”

“That would be awesome,” Fox said. “The Walker Cup’s all about team. Hopefully Jim Holtgrieve, the captain of the team, saw how well we all got along at the World Amateur and that we bonded together and won a team event.

“That would be a great way to cap off my amateur career.”

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