Steven Fox entered the match play portion of the U.S. Amateur Championship seeded 63rd out of 64 golfers.
He left on top.
The 21-year-old Hendersonville native rallied over the last two holes in regulation and clinched the title on the first playoff hole.
Fox, a senior at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, sunk an 18-foot birdie putt to edge Michael Weaver, a junior at the University of California. It was a dramatic ending to a 37-hole match-play final Sunday as Weaver was 2-up with two holes left at Cherry Hills Country Club in Cherry Hills Village, Colo.
With the win, Fox earns an automatic bid to the 2013 British Open and could get a bid to the U.S. Open (if he remains an amateur) and the Masters.
“I fought all day,” Fox said in a TV interview. “I had to keep pushing and just try and make birdie. This is amazing. This is a dream come true.”
His 10-foot birdie on the 17th hole pulled him within one. He put the pressure on Weaver when he made his second straight birdie. Weaver then missed a five-foot par attempt on the 18th hole that forced the first playoff in an U.S. Amateur final since 2003.
Fox and Weaver both qualified for match play by earning two of the 14 spots available to 17 golfers after 36 holes of stroke play.
Fox then captured the championship by winning six straight matches, including ousting the world’s top-ranked amateur, Chris Williams, in the quarterfinals.
A 2009 graduate of Hendersonville High, Fox was a prep All-American his junior and senior years. He was an all-conference performer the past two seasons and made it to the final 16 of the U.S. Public Links in Utah last month.