A man wearing a dark suit and an earpiece stayed within a few steps of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam on Thursday at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
He watched as the governor shook hands and chatted with UTC senior golfer Steven Fox, then stood off to the side during a ceremony at Lansing Court to celebrate Fox.
Fox was the star. And he required no security protection as friends, classmates, university officials, local and state politicians and members of the Chattanooga golf community celebrated his achievement -- winning the U.S. Amateur last Sunday.
"This the number one thing of the last week, and to have Governor Haslam and Senator [Bob] Corker here today is absolutely outstanding," said Fox, who learned earlier Thursday he is officially one of three golfers on the U.S. World Amateur Team that will play Oct. 4-7 in Antalya, Turkey.
Following the formal ceremony with speeches from UTC chancellor Roger Brown, Corker, Haslam, UTC golf coach Mark Guhne, UT system president Joe DiPietro and state senator Bo Watson, Fox spent an hour signing autographs and taking pictures with fans with the famed Havemeyer trophy.
"To have them supporting me and Chattanooga is amazing," said Fox, who attended his first classes of the school year Thursday. "This couldn't be better. This is all amazing."
Chancellor Brown opened the ceremony. Then Corker took to the podium and was followed by the governor, interim athletic director Laura Herron and others.
Each praised Fox for representing UTC and the entire state with grace during his run to the championship previously won by the likes of Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and, more recently, Tiger Woods and Matt Kuchar.
The speakers described their Sunday evening watching Fox in the final match on NBC. Corker said he essentially ignored an order from his wife to sweep the porch before a gathering at their house.
"It's an incredible thing having a young man here at UTC winning the U.S. [Amateur], and people who don't know that much about golf may not understand the significance of this win," the senator said after his speech. "This is going to change his life. It distinguishes this university, this city and this young man. It's a great day for UTC and is something this university can be proud of for decades to come."
Fox began his speech -- with a cheat sheet -- by thanking Brown and then the elected officials and dignitaries. Then he thanked UTC supporters including Louis Card Jr., who helped finance the UTC player development complex.
Fox also thanked this teammates and coaches, including assistant Ben Rickett, who will caddie for him at the 2013 Masters.
Fox became teary-eyed thanking his family, including father, Alan, who caddied all but the last 19 holes of the U.S. Am, and his mother, Maureen.
While continuing with thank-yous, Fox spoke the line of the celebration.
"The girls' team -- my first night back, I spent the night with them," Fox said.
Fox and all of the golfing Mocs -- the guys and gals -- had a paint war and water fight. No security agent was needed for that sort of amateur fun.
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 ...