published Sunday, August 26th, 2012

Golf Mocs getting attention from Fox's feat

  • photo
    Steven Fox celebrates winning a hole during the U.S. Amateur golf tournament at Cherry Hills, Sunday, Aug. 19, 2012, in Cherry Hills Village, Colo.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The messages started flowing even before Steven Fox actually won the U.S. Amateur.

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga chancellor Roger Brown sent an email to Fox when the Mocs' senior golfer went 2 down with two holes to play in the final match against Andrew Weaver of the University of California.

The messages have not stopped since last Sunday.

Some have come from donors and potential recruits, which is important to the future of UTC golf as coach Mark Guhne and the entire athletic department and university attempt to capitalize on arguably the most historic sports accomplishment in the school's history.

"We've already had people step forward and make donations based on what happened Sunday," Guhne said Friday. "You have to keep the momentum going and ride it. We replied to a new recruit this morning."

Fox's victory adds to a growing list of accomplishments for Guhne and his team, which swells in national stature every season. The Mocs open the 2012-13 school year ranked No. 24 in preseason polls.

UTC first went to an NCAA regional in 2007. It won the Bowling Green Regional this past spring with graduated Stephan Jaeger taking medalist honors and Fox setting the course record with an 8-under-par 64.

Guhne has won four Southern Conference coach of the year awards. The Mocs have participated in two NCAA championships -- in 2009 and again this year, following the historic regional championship.

"It's only a matter of time until [Guhne] gets them to match play of the NCAA championships, and it will validate what he's done," said former Augusta State coach Josh Gregory, who won two NCAA titles before returning to his alma mater SMU last year.

"I think where a lot of my success came from is where Mark's comes from," Gregory said. "We want kids that come in with a chip on their shoulder and they want to prove those bigger programs wrong.

"Nobody wants to lose to an Augusta State or a Chattanooga."

With Fox's dramatic victory on the 37th hole of the U.S. Am's final match, the UTC golf program became more recognizable than ever. It also became more popular than ever.

"It's already bringing attention to recruits that this should be a place they should consider because of what Steven Fox accomplished," Guhne said. "There are a lot more people now who know there's a university and golf program in Chattanooga."

Financial donations to the program could be useful to complete the final plans of the UTC player development complex or to ensure Guhne doesn't have to stay in a friend's condo with no electricity on recruiting trips. Yes, he's done that in the past.

Fox's feat could help the entire university recruit.

UTC -- the whole campus -- received a three-hour advertisement on NBC as Fox played and assistant coach Ben Rickett caddied, with both wearing gear with the UTC logo. Guhne and Fox's father, Alan, were interviewed live during the match.

"It's harder to win that than it is to be the governor of Tennessee, because there's a lot more people trying to do that," Gov. Bill Haslam joked.

The public exposure will continue. Fox likely will be featured some during the first two rounds of the Masters when he is grouped with Bubba Watson. The same will happen at the U.S. Open when he plays with defending champion Webb Simpson, and once again in the British Open with defending champion Ernie Els.

Guhne said TaylorMade, which outfits the Mocs golf team, is creating a personalized golf bag with a blue-and-gold scheme for Fox to use in the majors and the two other PGA Tournaments to which he's been invited -- the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines and the AT&T National at Congressional Country Club.

"He's going to be on national TV a lot," Guhne said. "It's going to be pretty incredible to watch everything when it happens."

It could also be incredible to see what new heights the Mocs golf program reaches in the coming years.

"To hear from folks around town, we're really making it now," said Lewis Card Jr., a supporter of all UTC golf. "The next thing now is a national championship, and we'll make it before it's over with."

about David Uchiyama...

David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...

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