A flying Fox in final round of Northern Ireland Open
Ryan Fox equalled the course record when he scored a brilliant nine-under par in the final round to win the Northern Ireland Open.
The New Zealand golfer started the last day of the tournament three shots behind the leader but his amazing play in the last 18 holes saw him cruise to victory by four shots.
Fox had two bogeys in the last round but he also racked up a sensational nine birdies and an eagle. The eagle came on the par four second hole in which he drove the green from 307m.
His final round score of 62 equalled the course record at the Galgorm Castle Golf Club. The record had been set at the 2014 edition of the Northern Ireland Open.
Fox had scores of 66, 68, 69 and 62 over the four rounds to finish at 19 under par. He said he impressed himself with his consistency.
“To be honest, I played exactly how I played all week,” Fox said.
“But I got really hot with the putter. I played solid from tee to green the whole week, andtoday I left myself a lot of makeable putts.’’
At one stage in the final round there was a chance Fox might score 59 but a bogey on the par four 16th scuppered that prospect.
“It (the putter) got hot and it was nice to keep seeing the ball go in. I thought I was flirting with the magical number for a while, but a three-putt on 16 didn’t help that.’’
Fox’s eagle on the second hole saw him three under par through the first two holes on the final day which was a turnaround from the previous day.
“My start was a bit better than Saturday; I was one over after those two holes but (on Sunday) I holed a nice putt on the first and I was perfect off the tee to reach the green on the second hole. Yesterday, I went too far right, but I hit a great shot today and rolled in a nice putt from eight or nine feet.”
Fox’s win meant he was the 15th different winner in 15 tournaments in the season to the time on the European’s Challenge Tour.
It was also Fox’s second win on the Challenge Tour. He had won the Vaudreuil Golf Challenge in France in 2015.
The Northern Ireland Open win earned Fox first prize of 27,200 euros, which is about $NZ42,000.
It also took him to second on Challenge Tour’s league table, known as the Road to Oman, despite only having played five events. He had previously finished second, fourth, seventh and 18th.
Fox said to register his second win on the Challenge Tour was very satisfying.
“It’s hard to get your first win and sometimes it seems harder to keep doing it. It’s great to be a two-time winner on the Challenge Tour and build on the experience I had last year.”