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Cox turns pro, earns Hooters exemption

It was time for Ross Cox to put 100 percent energy behind his golf — and earn a little money in the process.

As a result, the 20-year-old former Farragut High School state golf champion and University of Tennessee red-shirt sophomore decided to turn pro last week.

“I’ve been wanting to turn pro for a while,” Cox said. “I felt like I was hitting the ball good but I felt like my golf game needed to get better. And if I go to school I don’t feel like I could get as much practice in as without going to school.”

And Cox has already enjoyed success at Qualifying School — better known as Q-School, the professional qualifying event for the pro entry-level Hooter’s Tour — held at Lake Forest Golf Club in Ocoee, Fla. near Orlando last week. Cox earned a seasonal tour exemption by finishing fourth among a 60-man field (75-73-65-70).

Cox said he was “unbelievably” excited about his upcoming professional debut. Saying the tour features 18 tournaments, the 20-year-old added the Hooter’s Tour begins March 13 in Orlando and runs through the fall.

As for details of his decision, “I talked to my dad and talked to my whole family about it, and I was really wanting to continue my golfing, I felt like I was ready for the next level,” Cox said. “Don’t get me wrong, I love school and all that, and I think it was the right thing — but at that time I felt my golf game needed to be better, and if I didn’t focus on my golf I didn’t think that I could get to my peak.”

Robert Cox, Ross’ father, said he, Ross and other family members and friends met with UT head coach Jim Kelson and others “about what is the best thing for him. ... We wanted him to hear everything from everybody, then he would have to make his decision.” That loop was “about twenty-five people,” Robert Cox said.

Ross Cox was beginning his red-shirt sophomore season at UT as an economics major after sitting out last season.

“It went good my freshman year, I played well my freshman year and I really enjoyed it,” Ross Cox said, adding that despite no major standout round or tournament at UT, “I played consistent, decent rounds all the time. I didn’t shoot in the eighties one round my whole freshman year.”

Perhaps the highlight of Cox’s career prior to college was winning the Class AAA state individual championship as a FHS junior in 2001. In addition, “I made the second stage [of qualifying] of the U-S Open a couple of times,” Ross Cox said.

The elder Cox said several well-wishers and curious friends have contacted the family. “We’ve been swamped all week, ever since everybody found out,” Robert Cox said. “ ... I would say he’s got probably close to a hundred people already e-mailing.”


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