Golf notebook: 2012 U.S. Amateur champ Fox turns pro

Tom LaMarre, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

--Steven Fox, the 2012 U.S. Amateur champion who played at Tennessee-Chattanooga, has turned pro and will try to earn Tour playing privileges for next season at Q-School this fall.
The 22-year-old Fox, who was a three-time All-Southern Conference selection, played in nine PGA Tour events this season and missed the cut every time, including the Masters, the U.S. Open at Merion and the Open Championship at Muirfield.
"I've been preparing for this moment my entire life," Fox said in a news release issued by Meister Sports Management. "I've learned many things over the last year and will treasure it always, but I'm ready to embark on something new and create even bigger headlines."
Fox made an unlikely run to the U.S. Amateur title last year at Cherry Hills, outside Denver.
After finishing eagle-birdie in qualifying to make the field right on the number, Fox survived a playoff involving 17 players for the last 14 spots in the match-play portion of the tournament at the end of stroke play.
Fox, who was No. 127 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings and seeded 63rd in the 64-man match-play field, beat top-ranked Chris Williams on the way to the 36-hole final.
Once there, he won the last two holes of regulation play to force a playoff against Michael Weaver of Fresno, Calif., and the University of California, before winning with an 18-foot birdie putt on the 37th hole.
Fox, from Hendersonville, Tenn., claimed his most recent title by five strokes in the 2013 Tennessee State Amateur Championship.
--Edward Lunger was looking for a relaxing golf vacation in Mexico, but instead wound up in a tussle with a crocodile.
Fortunately, Lunger survived, although he lost two fingers on his left hand.
The incident occurred after Unger, a 50-year-old engineer from Holtville, N.Y., yanked his tee shot to the left of the 15th hole at Iberostar Cancun Golf Club.
"It was in the sand," said Lunger, who took a couple of practice swings and then splashed his ball back out onto the fairway.
As he did so, he heard leaves rustling behind him.
Mark Martin, Lunger's friend and playing partner, watched the horrifying scene unfold from their golf cart in the fairway.
"All of a sudden, (Lunger's) arm went back, and his head went back," Martin said. "I saw the crocodile leap up."
The female crocodile had Lunger's left arm in her jaws up to his elbow and was using her tail and claws to drag Lunger to the sand.
Martin jumped out of the cart and grabbed a large rock, hitting the crocodile over the head right as Lunger was able to free himself from croc, and they ran down the fairway to safety.
"She pulled me back and flipped me, and I went to the ground," said the 5-foot-8, 180-pound Lunger, who managed to brace himself by getting a knee on the ground.
"The crocodile was holding me down and I pulled myself out. I don't remember even doing that. I'm thinking my whole hand is off. I couldn't feel my hand."
The men used golf towels to make a tourniquet and paramedics took Lunger to a private hospital, where he was forced to pay the $17,800 bill up front before he could get treatment.
Lunger, Martin and two other friends split the tab on their credit cards.
Doctors managed to reattach Lunger's index finger, but he lost the middle finger and most of the ring finger on his left hand.
The golfers said there were no signs to beware of crocs on the course, even though some Iberostar staff members told them that the reptiles had gored golfers on the course before.
To cap the whole thing off, Iberostar officials reportedly pressured Lunger to sign documents absolving the resort of responsibility, and when he did not, they allegedly spread rumors that he had been teasing the crocodile with a piece of chicken.
Lunger has filed a $2.25 million suit against Iberostar in a Brooklyn federal court.
--Law enforcement officials in Morton Grove, Ill., and Cook County have labeled a fire that destroyed 46 golf carts at Chick Evans Golf Course on Labor Day as arson.
The blaze, which was reported at about 8:55 p.m. on the grounds of the course on Cook County Forest Preserve property, apparently was started with tiki torches that were found at the scene.
"It's not an accidental fire," said Sophia Ansari, a spokeswoman for the Cook County Sheriff's Department. "At this point, the cause and the motive are under investigation."
Ansari said the course's general manager locked up the pro shop about 8:20 p.m. and returned about half an hour later to find the golf carts on fire.
No one was injured in the fire.
Chick Evans Golf Course, which is managed by Billy Casper Golf, owns 60 gas-powered golf carts, valued at about $3,000 each, and has brought in carts from other courses in the area until it can buy new ones.
A reward of $5,000 has been being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the fire.
--The long lost Green Jacket that was awarded to Horton Smith, winner of the first Masters in 1934 when it was called the Augusta National Invitation Tournament, has sold at auction for nearly $700,000.
Green Jacket Auctions, based in Denville, N.J., did not identify the winner of the auction.
"This is the green jacket that didn't exist anymore," said Ryan Carey of Green Jacket Auctions. "Of the so-called 'Original 10' jackets, all were accounted for except Smith's. We had kind of given up ever finding it."
Augusta National did not begin awarding its revered Green Jacket to the winner of the Masters until Sam Snead won the tournament in 1949, but at that time it also gave the jackets to the nine men who had won the previous 12 tournaments.
They included Smith (1934 and 1936), Byron Nelson (1937 and 1942), Jimmy Demaret (1940 and 1947), Gene Sarazen (1935), Henry Picard (1938), Ralph Guldahl (1939), Craig Wood (1941), Herman Keiser (1946) and Claude Harmon (1948).
When Smith died in 1963, the jacket was passed on to his brother, Renshaw Smith, also a golf pro, who died in 1971. Then it became the property of Michael and Tom Lackovic, Renshaw Smith's stepsons.
For 42 years since, the jacket hung in a closet.
"We knew it was part of golf history," Michael Lackovic said. "But we never made a big deal out of it."
According to Green Jacket Auctions, the $682,229.45 that Smith's jacket summoned was the highest price paid for a piece of golf memorabilia.
--Helen Alfredsson of Sweden was a fashion model in Paris, went to college in the United States and played golf at the highest level around the world for 25 years.
But when it came time to retire from competitive golf at the age of 48, she made the announcement in her native language after tying for 48th in the Helsingborg Open at Vasatorps Golf Club in Helingsborg, Sweden.
"I'm 48 and I think that's reason enough (to retire)," an emotional Alfredsson told the gallery at the 18th green, where she received a standing ovation. "Not everyone is an iron woman like Laura (Davies).
"I really want to just take it easy, and I'm sick and tired of fighting. I love the girls, but the traveling ... I don't want to travel. I don't want to pack my bags and have the same clothes for weeks on end.
"I'm going to study sports psychology, I have my tournament for my mom, who died of Alzheimer's. and then hopefully I'll find something to do with (the Helingsborg Open), where we have to promote it and hopefully get bigger money and a bigger event."
An Honorary Life Member of the Ladies European Tour, Alfredsson turned professional in 1989 and claimed her first title in the 1990 Women's British Open.
Alfredson earned 21 individual victories in her 25-year international career, including the 1993 Nabisco Dinah Shore and the Evian Masters in 1994, 1998 and 2008.
She also teamed with Liselotte Neumann to win the 1992 Sunrise Cup World Team Championship for Sweden.
Alfredsson made eight appearances in the Solheim Cup as a player and was captain of the European team for the 2007 matches.
She is married to Kent Nilsson, the former National Hockey League star who won the Stanley Cup with the Edmonton Oilers in 1987 and scouts European hockey for the Florida Panthers.
--San Diego Country Club in Chula Vista, Calif., has been selected to host the 2017 United States Women's Amateur Championship by the United States Golf Association.
The tournament will be played the week of Aug. 7-13, 2017.
"The USGA is very happy to return to San Diego Country Club," said Thomas J. O'Toole Jr., USGA vice president and chairman of the organization's Championship Committee. "Southern California has consistently provided a vibrant backdrop for our national championships, and we are confident that San Diego Country Club will again provide an outstanding test and gracious hospitality to the competitors."
The 2017 U.S. Women's Amateur will be the 77th USGA championship played in California, and the third held at San Diego Country Club.
Mickey Wright, the legendary San Diego native, captured the U.S. Women's Open for the fourth and final time in an 18-hole playoff over Ruth Jessen at San Diego Country Club in 1964.
Jill McGill, who played at USC and lives in San Diego, won the 1993 U.S. Women's Amateur Championship at the club, posting a 1-up victory over Sarah LeBrun Ingram in the final.
San Diego Country Club was established in 1897 and moved to its current location on Sept. 3, 1921, with a course designed by William Watson and later remodeled by William P. Bell for additional length.
The club hosted the PGA Tour's San Diego Open, now the Farmers Insurance Open, in 1952 and 1953, with Ted Kroll and Tommy Bolt winning the titles.
San Diego Country Club also has hosted has hosted U.S. Open and U.S. Senior Open championship qualifiers on several occasions.

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