Fox’s 29 equals second-nine record

Ryan Fox equalled the record for the lowest score of a second-nine in The Open’s 148-year history.

Fox, the only New Zealander in the tournament, reeled off six birdies on the closing nine on the first day for a score 29.

Though his back nine matched the best score on an inward half at an Open, it fell one shot short of the record for either nine. Englishman Denis Durnian carded a 28 on the front nine at the 1983 Open at Royal Birkdale.

Fox said he had scored 29 for nine holes previously but not on a course that presented the difficulty that Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland did and it was some time ago.

“Not for a long time, and not on a golf course like that,’’ Fox said.

Fox admitted his caddie gave him a reprimand when Fox started wondering if such a score would be a record.

“I did actually ask my caddie, had anyone shot 29 for nine holes in a major, and I’m sure that happened. He said, shut up, and just hole the putt.”

Fox had been three over par through the first nine holes on the first day and he couldn’t put down the change in fortunes to anything in particular.

“To be honest, I’ve been struggling lately,’’ he said.

“On the front nine I had two bad shots and made a couple of bogeys. Didn’t hole anything.

“I had a three-putt and sort of walked off the front nine sort of pretty pissed off, to be honest. I holed an eight-footer for birdie on 12 and it just sort of relaxed me a little bit. And (then I) saw a couple more go in.

“It was the first time I’ve had fun on a golf course for a while. You certainly don’t expect to do that. But it was nice to just get out of my own way and hit some decent golf shots and be a part of such a great event.”

The often-used sporting term of being in the zone did not apply, Fox said.

“To be honest, I don’t think I quite got in it.

“I know that sounds strange, although I’ve probably been in it once or twice before. And it gets to a point of see it and hit it. And it certainly wasn’t like that.”

Fox said the good form was perhaps a reflection of some work he had been doing on his swing.

“I’ve been working pretty hard the last few weeks on some technical stuff and also some other stuff and just trying to get out of my own way and just focusing on trying to hit a golf shot and not about all the bad stuff.’’

Fox would have been very thankful for the 29 as on the second day he struggled with a four over par 75 and only made the mid-way cut by two shots.

On the third day he had a one under 70 to jump up 15 places into the top 50 and on the final day he scored a meritorious two-under 69 to finish 16th with prize money of $US126,313. That equates to nearly $NZ187,000.