PETE KOWALSKI: We'd like to welcome the 2012 United States Amateur Champion, Steven Fox, from Hendersonville, Tennessee, a winner in 37 holes. And Steven, I guess the best way to start is to talk about your reaction to what happened on 18 to Michael's putt, and then the way you played the first hole to win the championship.
STEVEN FOX: Yeah. He had about eight feet for par to win it and win one up. And I mean it was like dead center from my angle, and when I saw it bounce out, I kind of gasped a little bit. I think I put my hand over my mouth. I was shocked. And quickly I had to gather myself and go to the playoff.
And then the first playoff hole, me and Ben, my caddie for the second 18, we decided to hit 6‑iron. Hit 5‑iron in the morning round and decided to hit six and lay up a little bit, and then adrenaline kicked in and had 70 yards and decided to hit it just as hard as we could from about 70 yards and see if we could get it to stop, and then it ran above the slope. And once Michael had probably 15, 20 feet for par, we just wanted to cozy it down there for par, and I just tapped it in and luckily it found the hole.
PETE KOWALSKI: Can you tell us what it feels to be the U.S. Amateur champion?
STEVEN FOX: I don't even know right now. This is unreal. I mean it doesn't even feel real. The whole week is like a dream to me. I really can't express it in words.
PETE KOWALSKI: Questions. Please wait for the question mic.
Q. Steven, I wasn't there for every shot you hit today, but I was there for the second time you played No. 10 today. It seemed like you were pretty unsettled over that putt. It was like a four‑foot putt to make birdie there. You backed away from that putt. Can you tell us what your thoughts were?
STEVEN FOX: Left‑to‑right putts aren't my favorites. Definitely prefer right‑to‑left ones. And I missed one similar in the morning round from about ten feet but from the other side. So that thought was kind of running through my head, and when I was standing over it I wasn't comfortable. I decided to back. I couldn't align myself at all, and finally I got settled and hit a really good stroke.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about the decision to change caddies? I guess it happened between lunch and your warmup on the range. Your coach was saying that Ben has walked with you a lot of tournaments and kind of knows your game. And was your dad tired or you just felt like you needed a boost to go the second 18?
STEVEN FOX: My dad is 53 years old, and I'm sure he's tired. This is not an easy course to walk, and going 36 would have been tough.
But Ben's walked with me a lot during college. We get along. You could watch, we were smiling the whole day, laughing, making jokes and enjoying the crowd. It was awesome.
And the reason I changed is the morning round I made a few mistakes and would just fire and not pick a target. And with Ben as my caddie, we did talk about every shot, and Ben was perfect for the job.
Q. You missed the putt on the 16th hole. You're two down. Can you take me through your mindset on that hole and kind of what you were feeling there? At some point here was there any kind of feeling of maybe it's not going to be my day?
STEVEN FOX: Absolutely. I won 15 and made a good birdie putt to go one down, and then on 16 once he made that 20‑footer, you know, I thought it was over. I was dormie, just kind of play my hardest and see where it went. Luckily I made birdie and then par on 18. But I definitely thought it was his day, and then it kind of switched.
Q. Through 27 holes you obviously weren't playing your best. Did you think it just wasn't going to happen for you today?
STEVEN FOX: You know, I'm always fighting. I'll never be one to give up. Things can click at any moment. You can find your swing wherever or find your stroke throughout a round, and I just wanted to keep going, keep talking to my caddie. We were having fun, and things eventually clicked.
Q. It's a bad pun, but they call it being outfoxed back home, I guess. Can you describe it and just what it is about you that you think you're able to do things at the right moment to people?
STEVEN FOX: This whole match is the definition of being foxed. Definitely two down with two to go and then winning 17, 18 and then winning the first playoff hole and making a 20, 25‑footer, that's the definition of being foxed.
Q. It was kind of a dream, a month ago I guess you shot 74 your first round at sectional qualifying and came back. I guess you were last place among your six teammates and came back and shot 63. Then you get here and you barely get into the playoff and 63 seed and you get through and beat the No. 1 ranked guy in the world. And then you win an incredible final coming from two down. Can you talk about the whole month and maybe the karma of that?
STEVEN FOX: I can't even explain really. It didn't seem like it was coming true. After shooting 70 the first four of the first round of the qualifier and then in the playoff. You know, my goal was just to make it to the Match Play the first time, being my first amateur, U.S. Am. And I just kept going and kept fighting. This is awesome.
Q. How important was it for you to get your coaches here and everybody here last night from Tennessee?
STEVEN FOX: You know, if they didn't come, I would say the next 18 would have been like it was. If they hadn't shown up, coach showing up. They were all rooting for me. It's unreal how much they mean to me and how much they meant out there.
Q. U.S. Amateur seems to be kind of an endurance contest. You think about you've been out here for about nine days. Was there ever a time during that nine‑day period you felt pretty gassed?
STEVEN FOX: You know, not really. We play a lot of golf in school, practicing in the heat back home. Just keep drinking and keep eating. That worked for me.
Q. When you got here this week, where did you feel like you ranked in the field? Are you thinking I can win this thing; are you just trying to make Match Play. What kind of goals were you feeling like?
STEVEN FOX: Definitely not one of the top ranked. I mean I know I can compete at a high level, but I wasn't sure what the low was going to be. The U.S. Am, seeing Justin Thomas, a bunch of Alabama guys, Cal; you see all these people out here, and I wasn't sure where I ranked really.
Q. Can you walk through the approaches to 17 and 18?
STEVEN FOX: You know, it's just like all days. Me and Ben had a bunch of fun, cracking jokes, looking at the gallery. This is by far the coolest thing I've done, seeing them cheering. I mean it was unreal.
And you know, we just kind of kept calm. For some reason I wasn't nervous at all. I don't know why. But I kept my nerves to myself, and it was awesome.
Q. What about your yardages?
STEVEN FOX: Oh, the yardages? Oh, on 17, hit driver and then laid up with a wedge and had probably ‑‑ I think I was landing it about 75, 80 yards and hit it to about ten feet, made the putt.
And then on 18, we were a little indecisive on 18. Hit driver in the right rough, and then it was in between the 7‑iron and 8‑iron. We had it 170, 175 uphill into the wind and didn't know if I could ‑‑ our original plan was to hit it cut in there because the pin was on the right. And eventually I didn't feel comfortable. I backed off it and just hit a regular draw 7‑iron just to the left of the green, try and get a putt.
Q. You got the tangible evidence under your wing right here next to you but you also get some invitations that are pretty special to you, too. Talk about that.
STEVEN FOX: I mean none of it's sunk in. I guess I've tried picturing myself on the first tee at Augusta, and it doesn't seem real. Going to play the par‑3 contest at the U. S. Open. I mean I can't even picture myself there. It's going to be unreal and feel like a dream when I'm there again.
PETE KOWALSKI: Any more questions for Steven? Okay. Congratulations, champion. Well played.
STEVEN FOX: Thank you very much.