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April 9, 2013

Steven Fox


THE MODERATOR:テつ Good afternoon, everyone.テつ It's a pleasure to welcome Steven Fox here for his first Masters.
Steven qualified by winning the 2012 U.S. Amateur at Cherry Hills in Colorado.テつ In the final match, despite being 2‑down with two holes to play, he forced a playoff and birdied the first extra hole to win the match.テつ Steven is in his senior year at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga, and we wish you well here this week.
STEVEN FOX:テつ Thank you very much.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Before we take some questions, just let me say, congratulations, and tell us what it feels like to be playing in your first Masters.
STEVEN FOX:テつ Hopefully the first of many.テつ But it's been an awesome week so far.テつ I got here Friday morning, played Friday, played Saturday, and on Saturday got to play with Phil, Keegan Bradley and Jason Dufner which was awesome, a great experience for me, since I'll be playing with Bubba and Ian Poulter on Thursday I just found out.テつ So getting to play with them was a pretty cool deal.
I want every day to go as slow as possible.テつ I don't want to leave this place, but eventually, hopefully on Sunday, I'll be leading.

Q.テつ Talk a little about before this week, because I know amateurs have the chance once you get the invitation you can come on down.テつ How many times did you come down and how many times did you play and how did you soak it all in?
STEVEN FOX:テつ Today is probably my 12th round, 12th or 13th round.テつ I came down last semester with Toby Wilt and David Ingram.テつ They took me down here.テつ Since they're members from Nashville, they took me down here.
Then probably a month ago came down with my dad, and who's caddying for me this week, Ben Rickett, came down for about four days and then played obviously the last few days.

Q.テつ Had you been here before?
STEVEN FOX:テつ No.テつ Well, I came for a Monday practice rounds.テつ I was on the other side of the ropes my freshman year.テつ We played in Augusta State's tournament, and they gave us tickets for the practice round on Monday.テつ And I saw a lot of the guys, Tennessee guys, Duke guys, Texas was here, so it was cool.

Q.テつ We don't see somebody very often somebody who at the news conference who was here early in the audience for somebody else's news conference; what did you think of Phil's performance here?
STEVEN FOX:テつ When I got to play with Phil, I knew he was good guy.テつ It always interacts with his fans.テつ Me being a player, I'm still a fan of Phil.テつ He's an awesome guy.
Mark took me here early just to see what it's like.テつ He spoke well, and he's done it more times than I have.テつ But he's a great person to be a role model.

Q.テつ I'm sure you've thought about this obviously since winning the Amateur, but now that it's here and now that you're experiencing it all, is it what you thought it was going to be like?テつ Is it different?テつ How is it living up to that thought process that you have building up to this week?
STEVEN FOX:テつ After the Amateur people asked me, has it sunk in and it never did.テつ About three weeks ago is when it sunk in when the Masters crept up.テつ And it's like, now, oh, boy, the time has come.テつ It's been good so far.テつ I'm just excited to be here really.

Q.テつ Probably when you first came here, you just wanted to learn the golf course, and take a look around.テつ At what point do you start looking at what you're going to score here?テつ The last couple of days do you start to figure out what your score is?
STEVEN FOX:テつ I haven't really focused on score much, just staying in the moment and taking one shot at a time.テつ The first few times I came here, I just wanted to play.テつ I didn't take notes on the golf course at all, just socialized with the group I was with, played one shot at a time, and didn't take any notes, had a good caddie.
I've kind of left that to my caddie this week.テつ He's taken all the notes.テつ If I say something, he's writing it down in the book.テつ I won't have a yardage book this week.テつ I'll just go off what Ben has in his book.テつ I'll just take it all in, take all the views in, the holes, it's awesome.

Q.テつ What's been some of the best advice you've got this week?テつ Have you sought anyone in particular?
STEVEN FOX:テつ I'll say Phil.テつ Obviously you have to be smart, but he took it to a bigger level about playing smart, what side to miss on.テつ He would show me putts that nobody knows about really but Phil.テつ His little black book that he has, it's really phenomenal what he has in there of all the years he's played.テつ He's showed me around a little bit.テつ And the best advice, just staying patient, one shot at a time, and knowing where to miss out here.

Q.テつ Talk a little bit about how you maybe became a little bit too much of a perfectionist after the Amateur and how you've gotten back more toward your game.
STEVEN FOX:テつ The worst thing I did after the Am was change my game, and it hurt me quite a bit.テつ I didn't have a very good college, you know, my senior year.テつ I would have a good tournament here and there, but there was no consistency.テつ My game, I would always before the end, I would hit on the range for 20 minutes, putt a few and go play.テつ Then I changed it to spending countless hours on the range trying to perfect my swing.
My coach, Mark Guhne, at Chattanooga, he sat me aside and we hit probably ten balls and eight of them were good and two of them were bad, and I focused on the two bad ones.テつ And that's never been me.テつ I've always focused on the good ones.テつ So I'm getting back into that and so far it's been good.
I was at Mississippi for a college event before I came here and took second and played well, finally saw some red numbers, which was good.
So obviously that pep talk that me and Coach had was beneficial for me.

Q.テつ You played on the two TOUR events earlier this year, I know they were not necessarily the finishes you would have liked, but what did you gain from those or how have those events perhaps helped you prepare for this week?
STEVEN FOX:テつ You know, it's nice now not having to play for a check every week.テつ Like I said, I'm still under my dad's income, which is nice.
I take them as freebies.テつ It's a learning experience, obviously.テつ It's an added bonus if I play well, you know, make the cut.テつ But I just take them as missed cuts.テつ I've learned so much.テつ I've learned after Torrey Pines that I can belong.テつ You know, I was, I think, 40th or 50th after the first day.テつ Obviously played the easier of the two courses and then Saturday didn't have the greatest of weather and go to the tougher course which made it harder.
I left there obviously disappointed but also happy knowing that I posted an under‑par round at a TOUR event.テつ And then at Bay Hill, I learned you have to hit fairways on TOUR.テつ Especially not being a long hitter, fairways are crucial.テつ I played with Brad Fritsch, who was tied for 10th after the second day.テつ And I was looking at his stats and he hit 80 percent of fairways compared to mine; where I watched him hit from the fairway every time, it's an easy game.テつ When you hit it right and left all the time, you make it difficult on yourself.テつ And I hit probably 30percent of fairways.テつ I just realized, make golf easy on yourself, don't make it difficult.

Q.テつ Are you more comfortable this week now having those two experiences under your belt?
STEVEN FOX:テつ Absolutely.テつ If I didn't have those and this was my first event, I would be shaking a little more.テつ But having those, since I missed the cut, those four opening tee shots, the TOUR events are helpful.テつ I kept the stat of hitting three out of four fairways, so I was happy, and then out here, I haven't had nerves.
I had nerves when I played with Phil, obviously playing with Phil, Keegan and Dufner, being the rookie it was a little nerve‑wracking.テつ But it was an awesome time and I haven't been nervous at all.テつ I guess the galleries will be different with Tiger playing behind me on Thursday and playing with Bubba and me, but it's a fun day and I enjoy playing when there's crowds.

Q.テつ Did you give yourself the opportunity to go down to 10 to see where Bubba hit that shot from last year?
STEVEN FOX:テつ Every time I played.テつ Every time I'm like, how did it happen.テつ What he did, only a left‑hander could have hit it and only Bubba; maybe Phil, as well.テつ But what he did, you see how sloped 10 is out there.テつ You don't see it on TV much but when you are standing behind that green and how he swung it up the hill and curled it 50 yards, 60 yards, that's truly remarkable.

Q.テつ Were you watching it last year?
STEVEN FOX:テつ Come Masters week, now that I'm playing in it, previously I would sit on the couch from morning till night watching the Masters, always having that dream of playing and just looking how perfect the golf course is year‑in and year‑out.

Q.テつ Did you watch all The Ryder Cup, too; playing with Poulter?
STEVEN FOX:テつ I didn't.テつ I was actually in Turkey at that time.テつ I was over there for the World Am, which was a terrible time to be in Europe.テつ I think we caught the finals.テつ It was never televised over there and we kind of got it on our computer and found out when we lost, which was unfortunate.

Q.テつ You said the worst mistake you could have made was trying to change your swing; what were you trying to accomplish in that?
STEVEN FOX:テつ I just‑‑ I don't know.テつ I guess more of what people said.テつ I know my swing's not perfect but it works.テつ It gets the job done.テつ I don't know why I wanted to change after the Am, I would try to tweak things here or there and that was never me.テつ Obviously my short game has never been there for me and got me out of trouble.テつ But my swing, I just wanted to get better at ball‑striking and instead, you know, it brought me down and made me worse of a player.
Now I'm kind of getting out of that stage, and you know, today, I hit balls after I played nine, hit balls for 20 minutes and was hitting it good and left and putted and chipped, and that's what I'm getting back into.

Q.テつ Is short game one of your strengths, and if so, how has it worked here at Augusta National?テつ What have you learned the last couple of days with your short game?
STEVEN FOX:テつ It's tough.テつ You can play college courses and on most courses miss it anywhere and still get it up‑and‑down.テつ Here, there's maybe a 1 out of 10 chance in some of the places that you can put the ball here.
But I've gotten real familiar with the greens around here.テつ I've got a special wedge in play that has almost zero degrees bounce where no matter how far from the ground, you can still throw the club under and get it in the air, which has been helpful.テつ So I've worked with that a lot this week.テつ I think my short game out here is definitely going to help me, because you're not going to hit 18 greens out here.テつ Even with wedges in your hand, you wouldn't hit the green with how undulated and how firm they are and the situation being the Masters.テつ The short game is definitely going to help me this week.

Q.テつ What is it about you that makes you such a good match‑play player?
STEVEN FOX:テつ I don't know, just take it one hole at a time.テつ I feel more care‑free.テつ With stroke play, it's every shot counts.テつ I don't want to say every shot doesn't count in match play, but if you hit one OB, you're not making 6 or 7 on a hole.テつ You're just 1‑down.テつ That's why people say, you know, you make a 20 on a hole, you're 1‑down; make a two and someone makes a hole and one, and you're 1‑down and you just move on.テつ I guess that's what I like.テつ You can play good on some holes, play bad and still be okay.

Q.テつ For all people who previously sat on the couch and watched coverage all day long, when you're here in person, what sticks out to you that are kind of wow experiences?
STEVEN FOX:テつ The galleries are unbelievable.テつ When I played Friday, Saturday, with no one out here, and then I came out here Monday, I yelled "Fore" probably 15 times in my round.テつ Luckily I didn't hit anybody, but the place gets a lot more narrow.テつ You don't see it when you play, you know, any other day but the Masters.
But it definitely tightens up a little bit.
It's awesome.テつ I played with TJ Vogel yesterday, and on 16 we had the crowd count down because we were hitting simultaneously, and we had them count down and you had the cheers.テつ It's just awesome being out here with the galleries.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Good luck this week.

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