Bear Slayer Fox Takes 112th U.S. Amateur

Faced with a 2-down deficit with two holes to go in the 36-hole championship match of the U.S. Amateur, Steven Fox of Hendersonville, Tenn., birdied the par-5 35th hole at Cherry Hills Country Club near Denver and parred the last to force extra holes.

On the 37th hole - the par-4 first, the senior-to-be at Tennessee-Chattanooga drained a slick and downhill 15-footer for birdie for the sudden victory. It was the first time a U.S. Amateur had been settled in extra holes since 2003.

"I'm at a loss for words," an obviously thrilled Fox said during a greenside interview. "I fought all day. I had to keep pushing."

The player seeded 63rd out of 64, added, "This is amazing - a dream come true." Like Fox, Weaver made it into the match-play portion of the championship after surviving a 17-man playoff Wednesday morning for the final 14 spots.

While Fox, who beat Weaver's University of California teammate Brandon Hagy in Saturday's semifinal, was exuberant, Weaver was clearly distraught. Right have the match was settled TV cameras caught him slamming his putter against his golf bag and, moments later, tears rolling down his face.

"For it to lip out like that, I'd rather it not hit the hole," a disconsolate Weaver said, then related his thoughts about the 37th hole. "I don't know what to say . . . I still can't believe what happened. I thought I did an okay job putting it behind me (on the No. 1 tee)."

Fox was also surprised at Weaver's crucial miss on the 35th. "It looked dead-center from my angle. When it missed, I kind of gasped and put my hand over my mouth. I was in shock, but I had to get ready."

Later, a bit calmer Weaver added, "It's not disappointed, just sad. I thought I made my putt on 18. That's golf, but I let this one slip through my fingers."

Weaver went up on the seventh hole in the morning 18 and stayed in the lead until the fateful 36th hole in the afternoon at a sun-washed Cherry Hills. He could have won the championship outright on the 35th hole, where he had Fox dormie, but missed his tying, winning birdie try. He had another chance on the 18th, but his eight-foot par putt banged into the back of the cup and bounced out, forcing the extra hole.

On the 37th, Weaver hit driver and went left, resulting in a chip shot between a sign by the second tee and a tree. He left his second in deep greenside rough, then chipped up short, opening the door for Fox, who found the green in regulation.

Fox rose to the occasion, making his birdie putt and becoming the 2012 U.S. Amateur champion. He's eligible for a host of perks if he remains an amateur, including invitations to the 2013 Masters, British Open, U.S. Open and a 10-year exemption to future U.S. Amateurs.

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