University of Tennessee at Chattanooga golfer Steven Fox won the U.S. Amateur last August in a one-hole playoff over Michael Weaver.
Fox's life changed that day.
He's played in three PGA Tour events -- including this week at the Colonial -- plus the Masters, and is lined up to play in at least five more pro events including the U.S. Open and the British Open.
One decision by Doug Hanzel could have eliminated the possibility for any of Fox's historic success.
"My caddie said 5-iron, I was thinking a 6-iron, and looking back, I should have hit a 7-iron," said Hanzel, who faced Fox in the U.S. Am round of 32 last August.
Hanzel, a Savannah, Ga., physician playing in the Lupton Memorial Tournament at The Honors Course this weekend, recalled how for a moment he thought he had Fox beat at Cherry Hills Country Club.
"I remember it pretty well," said Hanzel, who won the Lupton mid-am division in 2008 and the senior division last year. "I should have won."
Sitting in the 18th fairway from 205 yards away from the cup, with the match all square, Hanzel watched Fox fly the green and knew the youngster would make a bogey. Hanzel chose to hit a 5-iron from the fairway. He hit it long and right.
Hanzel chipped and three-putted for a double-bogey. Fox made a bogey and won the match 1 up.
"I knew I could beat him because I beat him by two in medal-play [qualifying]," Hanzel said. "I knew his game wasn't 'stud caliber.' I wasn't intimidated."
Hanzel had been a bit of the story himself by being the oldest player to reach the match-play portion of the U.S. Amateur. He was 56 years old. The USGA also told Hanzel he's the only player to qualify for match play of the U.S. Senior Am, the U.S. Mid-Am and the U.S. Am all in the same year.
"Everyone that was watching would ask my wife, 'Which one is your son?'" Hanzel said. "She'd reply, 'Well, the guy with the gray hair is my husband.'"
Hanzel said his U.S. Amateur experience at Cherry Hills ranks in the top five moments of his golf career. And it's a long and decorated amateur career for the former Kent State University golfer. Hanzel has reached match play of the U.S. Am in five different decades.
And with that experience, he never figured the slender senior golfer from UTC would go on to win the greatest prize in amateur golf.
"When I played with Steve, he didn't play all that great," said Hanzel, who is tied for seventh in the senior division in Ooltewah. "He was an extremely good putter and his short game was really good. I was very surprised he kept winning and winning and winning.
"I did watch the final match."
Fox is not eligible for the Lupton Memorial because it is open to mid-amateurs, seniors and super-seniors.
Don Kuehn leads the super-senior division with 37 points after the first of three rounds.
Dalton Melnyk shot a 2-under 70 and leads the mid-am division by one shot over two-time defending champion Kris Mikkelsen.
Three-time champion Paul Simson leads the senior division with 35 points on the Stableford system (and he caught a few bass from Lake Lupton in the afternoon) by three points over a group that includes Chattanoogans Mike Jenkins and Richard Keene.
Contact David Uchiyama at email@example.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.
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 ...