IT would be the icing on a pretty impressive 2016 if New Zealand’s Ryan Fox were to go on and claim this week’s Australian PGA Championship.
The 29-year-old sits just two shots behind clubhouse leader Andrew Dodt after signing for an impressive 5-under 67 in friendly morning scoring conditions at Royal Pines.
Fox, playing his first event as a full member of the European Tour after graduating from the secondary Challenge Tour earlier this month, posted five birdies against no bogeys, an achievement he was particularly proud of.
“Really happy,” he said after his round. “It’s a tricky course, I think we’ve probably got the best of the conditions, but it was still enough breeze out there to make it difficult and yeah, played really solid.
“No bogeys today and made a couple of putts, which was nice.”
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Punching his ticket to the European Tour via the Challenge Tour money list was a particularly satisfying achievement for Fox who came within a whicker of achieving the same outcome a year ago.
Starting the year with no status, Fox parlayed a tournament invite early in the season into five top 10’s and a victory but finished in 16th position on the Road to Oman, one place out of graduating.
That near miss proved a motivator for 2016 as Fox posted another six top 10s and a second Tour win to finish fourth in the standings and advance to the main Tour.
That form has continued into the Australian summer with a T4 result at the Australian Open, where he partnered eventual winner Jordan Spieth in the final round, and a T11 finish with teammate Danny Lee at last week’s World Cup of Golf.
“It was great the last couple of days at the Aussie Open and obviously getting to play with Jordan on the last day, sort of helped a lot to still be in contention in that kind of circumstance in the last day,” he said of what happened at Royal Sydney.
“He didn’t play great golf for 16, 17 holes of that last round, he just got away with a couple of bad shots.
“He made some putts when it mattered and obviously got himself in a play-off and won.
“You don’t have to be perfect to win, just do what you have to do and that’s what he managed to do.”
Fox said he’s looking forward to a break after this week at the end of what has been a busy year.
“I guess I’m kind of counting down the days,” he said.
“This is my last event of the year, so hopefully I can go out on a high and I’ve really got nothing to lose this week, so let’s see what happens.”
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