Less than a week after his graduation from Pelion High, Cody Proveaux is living a young golfer’s dream.
Proveaux, who won the Rolex Player of the Year award in 2011, is competing in the PGA Tour’s FedEx St. Jude Classic, which begins today at the TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tenn.
“I feel awesome,” said Proveaux, 18, who will pay for Clemson in the fall. “To have the opportunity to play my first professional golf tournament right out of high school, it’s already amazing.”
Proveaux received a sponsor’s exemption to play in his first PGA Tour event with his Rolex award — an honor bestowed by the American Junior Golf Association.
In the 156-player field in Memphis this week, Proveaux is striking a balance between excited kid and budding professional.
“This experience has just been amazing already and I just want to go out there and have a ball,” he said. “There are so many sponsors here, I am hoping that I can show them what I can do, put myself on the map.”
Proveaux practices at the Ponderosa course in Batesburg-Leesville with dad Charles as his coach and has already made a name for himself as a junior. With brother Caleb, 14, as his caddie, Cody looks to prove himself a contender on par with the pros.
“Caleb and I practice together a lot and he knows my game pretty well, so we can be competitive,” Proveaux said.
The younger Proveaux is aiming to follow in his brother’s footsteps and is enjoying his experience inside the ropes.
“It’s fun to be out here with the pros, but we are going to work, too,” Caleb Proveaux said.
For the past two seasons, Cody and Caleb Proveaux were teammates on the Pelion Panthers golf squad.
Coach Parrish Deans just tried to stay out of the way.
“I figured the best way to coach Cody was to let him coach me. Everything he learned, I’d just ask him to show me, so he was reinforcing it,” Deans said. “It was never a situation where I’d say, ‘Hey, man, you should try this.’ ”
Deans admires Proveaux’s demeanor.
“It’s hard to tell if Cody eagled a hole or if he double-bogeyed. He’s that calm about it, he doesn’t get too up or too down. He doesn’t let a shot beat him twice,” said Deans, who will join Proveaux’s gallery in Memphis.
Three weeks ago, Proveaux was at Indian River Golf Course, finishing tied with Caleb for third in the S.C. High School League championship.
On Tuesday, Proveaux was on a PGA club putting green practicing alongside players such as Padraig Harrington.
“It’s tough going from high school golf to pro tour golf, but I’m going to give it my best,” Proveaux said. “The courses are perfect, the greens are perfect and these guys can practice for hours and hours. That’s why they are so good. I’m hoping that I can get there.”
After Memphis, Proveaux returns to junior competition with the Footjoy Junior Invitational in Greensboro, N.C. — another event that carries a PGA sponsor’s exemption as a reward — and the Rolex Tournament of Champions on his June calendar.
Proveaux’s schedule is full through the summer, right up until August 11 when he will join Clemson’s golf team.
But he’s at Southwind this week.
“I’m just trying to hurry up and get the first tee shot out of the way. That’s going to be the most nervewracking,” Proveaux said.
Proveaux’s PGA outing officially begins today with an 8:48 a.m. tee time with partners Jason Kodrak and Jamie Lovemark.