Ex-Moc, Dalton State coach guides Fox at The Masters - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Ex-Moc, Dalton State coach guides Fox at The Masters

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Former UTC golfer and current Dalton State head coach Ben Rickett (back) watches Steven Fox's shot Wednesday at Augusta National. (Courtesy: UTC Athletics/GoMocs.com) Former UTC golfer and current Dalton State head coach Ben Rickett (back) watches Steven Fox's shot Wednesday at Augusta National. (Courtesy: UTC Athletics/GoMocs.com)

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRCB) -- Steven Fox is hoping to rekindle some of his Cherry Hills magic at Augusta National this week.

But with one change.

Unlike his historic run at the U.S. Amateur Championship last summer, Fox's father, Alan, will not spend any time on his bag.

"Dad will be there Sunday to Sunday, and I hope to be there as well that second weekend," Fox said before leaving Chattanooga, "But he will just be there for support this time. Ben will be on the bag the whole time."

That advance notice came as a pleasant change for Ben Rickett.

The former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga golfer and assistant coach jumped in as Fox's caddy midway through the 36-hole championship match at Cherry Hills, but now has been given months to prepare a gameplan.

"It was just a shock (when I picked up his bag at the amateur) because I've never been around that amount of people," Ricket said. "I told him he really threw me under the bus, in the most polite way possible."

But the move obviously paid off.

Once Rickett settled in, Fox settled down and rallied from a two-hole deficit to win the title and earn an invitation to Augusta National.

The UTC senior is known for staying calm under the toughest conditions, but he still relied on Rickett's veteran guidance to coach him through some tough decisions.

"He often tries to do something and I'll say, 'Fox, you can't do that in practice. Let's stick to your strengths.'" joked Rickett. "That's why I think it really works because I'm the conservative golfer that considers the consequences, and he's the type of golfer that likes to go all out."

Chattanooga head coach Mark Guhne can't help but chuckle when thinking about that balance.

He knows the secret to Rickett's "conservative wisdom" was honed through years of playing the opposite way.

"Ben was the one who went for everything when he played for me until his senior year. That's when he realized it probably wasn't the best way to play," Guhne cracked. "He never played out of his own fairway. Now that golf has to do with his paycheck, he makes much better decisions than when it was my paycheck."

Rickett enjoyed a smooth transition into coaching, spending the last two years as Guhne assistant at UTC. Earlier this year he was hired to head the start-up program at Dalton State, and embarked immediately on recruiting his first signing class.

However, he's taken several breaks in between to gather knowledge about Augusta National and walk the course with Fox for practice rounds. He wasn't allowed to play or carry a bag, but he made sure to ask the local Augusta loopers about every situation Fox experienced.

This week he's joined Fox for practice rounds with the likes of Phil Mickelson and Graeme McDowell, and helped Fox shoot 1-under in Wednesday's Par 3 Contest while playing with highly-ranked pros Brandt Snedeker and Luke Donald.

His black book is nowhere near as extensive as Mickelson's, but it's packed with every nugget Rickett could find over the last few weeks.

"I won't even carry a yardage book out there with me this week. I'm just going off whatever Ben has in his book and what he tells me," Fox said Tuesday during his time in the media center.

Rickett knows he won't be the ones swinging the clubs this week or seeing his name on the historic Augusta leaderboard, but that doesn't mean he isn't also enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

"Growing up as a golfer it is always a dream not just to go to Augusta, but to be inside the ropes," Rickett said. "I guess a few years ago that went out the window for me because I took on coaching, so this is a wonderful experience.

"This whole thing is just breathtaking. It really is."

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