Steven Fox's royalty is about to run out.
The reigning U.S. Amateur champion will begin competition in his last exempt professional tournament on Thursday when the former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga star plays in the British Open.
It's an opportunity of a lifetime that came with his victory last August in sudden-death over Chris Williams.
"It's my last pro event unless I get into Reno-Tahoe via a sponsor's exemption," Fox said before leaving for Scotland. "I've learned a lot. It's tough out there."
Fox has missed the cut in his previous seven ventures into professional golf including the Masters and the U.S. Open.
Who knows if Fox ever get back to the European major. Or if he'll ever have a chance to visit Scotland again in his lifetime. Fox, members of his family, and friends from high school as well as college teammates plan to make the most of it.
"It's going to be a really fun trip," Fox said. "We have a house. My mom, my sister and my girlfriend are going on this trip."
Fox will have as much support playing at Muirfield this week as he did playing Merion for the U.S. Open. His participation persuaded four high school friends to finally take a European vacation. UTC sophomore Kory Webb is also headed over where he will meet with UTC players Liam Johnston and Chris Robb who live two to three hours (in opposite directions) from Muirfield.
"Fox playing in the Open was a big factor," Webb said before leaving the states. "I talked to Liam and Chris about it, and they said I could come over and stay with them as long as I could."
Webb, who played in five events for the Mocs last season, said his golf clubs will be part of his luggage for the trip. Naturally.
"Chris asked if I wanted to get on The Old Course, and maybe Royal Aberdeen so I think we'll play three or four times while I'm over there," Webb said. "I'm also looking forward to seeing a different lifestyle. I knew nothing about internationals, but playing with [Robb and Johnston] has opened me up to a whole new world. I'm excited to see different lifestyles that people have outside of the states.
"I think I'll have to get a new memory card for my camera."
Fox has already filled his memory bank with memorable moments playing with and against the best players in the world. He's met greats of the game from Tiger Woods to Arnold Palmer. He's played in groups with the game's elite including Bubba Watson, Ernie Els, and Webb Simpson.
But nothing has prepared him for playing in the British Open. He's never played in the United Kingdom.
"It's my first time playing links golf, and I've played nothing close to it," said Fox, who posted a picture on Twitter of him playing out of a bunker with his right foot in the sand and his left foot atop the bunker about waist-high.
"If I get the putter hot, it will be a good week. I won't have nerves over there, even at the U.S. Open I wasn't nervous. I'm ready to go."
Contact David Uchiyama at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.
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 ...