Cox, a Jacksonville State rising senior from Oxford, earned one of five spots to the June 22-27 event at The Red Tail Golf Club in Devens, Mass., when she shot 3-over-par 74 and made it through a playoff in qualifying at The Oaks Course in Covington, Ga., on Wednesday.
Cox, who plays out of Cider Ridge Golf Club, qualified for the Women's PubLinks two years ago when it was played in Lexington, Ky., but didn't make it past stroke-play qualifying. Her goal this year is not only to make the cut, but to contend in match play.
"I was just so happy the first time I went," Cox said. "I was much younger, I was just in college, now I feel like I got so much more experience — boy, that sounds like I'm an old woman. I'm a senior in college and I've played so many more tournaments.
"I've got so much more experience under the gun like this tournament is going to be. I was so caught up before and that's kind of hard to overcome. You step on the tee and this is just like a pro tournament. I'm not saying I'm not going to be nervous when I get to Massachusetts, but I'll be more in control of my nerves. No matter the outcome, I feel more comfortable and prepared than I was in Kentucky."
It took a playoff to get her in the main event again, but this time the stakes weren't as intense.
Two years ago, she won a two-woman playoff for the last of three qualifying spots. On Wednesday, she was one of four players vying for the final three spots.
"That took a lot of the pressure off," Cox said. "I was much more calm going into this playoff compared to the last time."
Even more of the edge came off when she drew the first position in the order off the tee. And she wasted no time putting her ball in play, stepping up to the tee and finding the middle of the fairway while the other girls were still trying to decide the hitting order.
"If I sat around and waited for all four to hit, I'd have been more nervous," Cox said. "I knew I was going first, so I purposely told myself to hurry up and hit the ball. I absolutely bombed it and couldn't be happier."
Cox hit her second shot, an easy 9-iron, to within 20 feet and nearly made birdie. She tapped in for par, and that was all she needed to advance.
She described her round in qualifying as "steady," and given the way her college season ended, it was just what the doctor ordered.
Cox had been the Gamecocks' best closer, but in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament she had rounds of 86, 90 and 83 that completely shattered her confidence.
"I was extremely nervous going into this tournament," she said. "I played terrible in my final tournament of my junior year. If that doesn't shoot your confidence, I don't know what does.
"I've just been playing as much as I can to get my confidence back, so it was a thrill to shoot 3-over. It felt like a 69. I had a lot of pressure, not for anybody else, just myself. I needed to play good for myself."
The U.S. Women's Pubic Links is part of a busy summer for Cox. She leaves Saturday for the Women's Southern Amateur in Albany, Ga., and after returning from Massachusetts, she's off to U.S. Women's Amateur qualifying.