Torrey Pines start first of Fox's U.S. Am exemptions
SAN DIEGO – Steven Fox has one goal for his first tee shot in a PGA Tour event. “I’ll just try to make contact, see it go airborne and in the direction of the fairway,” the U.S. Amateur champion said.
Fox is playing this week’s Farmers Insurance Open on a sponsor exemption, the beneficiary of a change in the tournament’s use of its invitations. This is the first year the event has invited the U.S. Amateur champion. The tournament used to use this exemption on the winner of a one-spot amateur qualifier.
Fox, a Chattanooga senior, said he’ll turn pro after the Walker Cup, at the earliest. Until then, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to see how he stands against the world’s best players. “This year is going to be a true test,” he said.
He has starts awaiting him at the Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship. The Amateur champ also is invited to the Arnold Palmer Invitational, RBC Heritage, Memorial and AT&T National. Fox also said he’s received a sponsor exemption into the Crowne Plaza Invitational.
Fox will play the Farmers Insurance Open’s first two rounds with Q-School graduates Billy Horschel and Donald Constable. They’ll play Torrey Pines’ easier North Course at 10 a.m., then tackle the South Course at 11 a.m. Friday.
Fox has had plenty of time to prepare for his Tour debut. He arrived in San Diego on Saturday in order to escape Chattanooga’s near-freezing temperatures, and played his first practice round the following day. There were only about five players on the course that day. “It was wide open,” he said. “We had Pandora playing to make it as relaxing as possible.
“My head was spinning the first couple of days, just seeing the Tour bags and walking into the locker room. I’m like a little kid in a candy store.”
Fox’s unexpected U.S. Amateur victory already has come with lots of perks. He represented the United States at the World Amateur Team Championship in Turkey and the Copa de las Americas at Doral. He also was invited to the 16-man Walker Cup practice session. With the Havemeyer Trophy in his possession, he’s one of the favorites to make this year’s team. Fox enters a whole new world this week, though.
“I’ve probably overworked this week,” Fox said. “I’m just going to give it 100 percent and see how it goes.”