Fox stretches RAK lead to six as he seeks to bury 2018 Irish Open demons

Bernie McGuire

Ryan Fox - Getty

By Bernie McGuire, Al Hamra GC, RAK.

Kiwi powerhouse Ryan Fox is out to really bury the demons of losing the 2018 Irish Open in taking a whopping six-shot lead into the final round of the RAK Golf Classic in the UAE.

Fox went into golf’s ‘moving day’ leading by three but daylight was soon a distant second when he birdied his opening four holes in a third day 63, his second nine-under score for the week, to double his lead from three to six shots at 19-under-par with a round to play in the second of the Al Hamra double-header

Fox is the son of legendary All Black Grant Fox, and while he’s won a dozen times in his career, including a co-sanctioned event in Perth, Australia, there’s a part of him still looking to make amends when Scot Russell Knox denied his victory at 2018 Irish Open at Ballyliffin.

The Auckland-born Fox had led on both day one and two and then set the clubhouse lead at 14-under on day four only to see Knox hole a curling birdie putt on 18 to tie Fox, and then in the play-off at the same hole, the Scot holed practically the same birdie putt to win the premier Irish title.

“I have been in this position plenty of times, winning back home and in Australia, and around the Pacific, and the only other time I was in the lead was the Irish Open where I got done by Russell Knox holing a couple of absolute bombs on me,” he said smiling.

“I feel comfortable in the lead and while I am certainly going to be nervous, I just have to clear my head as everything is going well.  All I need to do is get out of my own way.”

The last time a New Zealand-born led from start to finish to win on the DP World Tour was Michael Campbell in capturing the 1999 Johnnie Walker Classic in Taiwan.

Four players – Scotland’s Scott Jamison (65), Poland’s Adrian Meronk (64), and the Spanish pair of Pablo Larrazabal (68) and Adri Arnaus (66).

Larrazabal was clearly none too pleased with SKY Sports Golf’s on-course commentator and after-round interviewer Inci Mehmet, singling out her on-course reference to his putting in missing a birdie putt at the eighth hole.

“She’s a professional golfer herself and she should know better when to say something and also what to say,” said Larrazabal in giving Mehmet both barrels after signing his card.

“I could easily hear her remarks about my putting and they just put me off, and had me thinking about my putting for all the wrong reasons, for the next couple of holes.”

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