Winning the U.S. Amateur comes with many perks.
They're incredible benefits that make golfers jealous -- such as being able to play Augusta National with regularity between the club opening and the Masters.
But they're also expensive.
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga senior Steven Fox had to decline an invitation to lunch with Arnold Palmer because staying at Cherry Hills (Colo.) long enough to win the championship put a dent in his wallet -- well, his father's wallet -- of about $3,500.
"It's the best money I've ever spent," Fox's father, Alan, said. "We'll do everything we can to help him get every place possible and do it within the NCAA and USGA rules."
An NCAA rule prevented Fox from accepting free airfare for his lunch with Palmer. It's possible they will meet before the Masters or at the Augusta tournament.
But there are rules in place that will allow for Fox to have some of his expenses paid by UTC for playing in the U.S. Open, the British Open and the World Amateur Team Championship in Turkey this fall.
Doug King, associate commissioner for compliance of the Southern Conference, flipped through rule books Tuesday to find the exceptions. He found something that could help the Fox family, including a rule that allows a student-athlete's institution to pay for expenses if he or she is competing in a national championship.
It seems the U.S. and British Opens fall under those categories. But the invitation to play in the Traveler's Championship at Torrey Pines may not be covered and could come out of Fox's allowance.
"There are things Chattanooga can do on the front end," King said.
Fox's gas bill certainly will rise this school year. It's conceivable that he could be having dinner with a teammate on a Friday in November and decide to play Augusta National the next day -- as often as he likes once the course opens again this autumn.
"There's a rumor that I'll get to take the whole team down once," Fox said. "But I'll try take every one of them down at least once if I can -- within the rules."
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...
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