New Zealand’s Ryan Fox moved a step closer to topping the DP World Tour Rankings in Partnership with Rolex after shooting an impressive opening round of 64 to lead the 2022 Nedbank Golf Challenge.
After carding one birdie and one bogey on the opening eight holes, Fox was level-par but came alive near the turn, firing an eagle and six birdies to play his final 10 holes in eight under par, ending the day one stroke ahead of European Ryder Cup Captain Luke Donald, who has returned to Gary Player Country Club for the first time since 2014.
The powerful Kiwi began the week second on the DP World Tour Rankings, having already claimed two victories in a stellar 2022 season. If he can add another win to his tally in Sun City on Sunday, Fox will overtake leader Rory McIlroy ahead of the season finale in Dubai next week.
“You don’t get it very often (everything going well),” a satisfied Fox said afterwards, “you very rarely get it for a week but it was very nice to get it for that back nine. I played OK on the front and from 11 on I didn’t miss a shot. Had a lot of really good numbers, which helps. When you’re in that state you just need to get out of your own way and hit shots. I’ve done that well this year, but did it really well today.
I couldn’t have wished for a better start. I figure if you can get to double digits under par around here for the most part you’re going to be pretty close come Sunday. To be most of the way there after the first round is pretty nice.”
Former World Number One Donald is in second place, much to his own surprise, after notching seven birdies in a bogey-free 65, with Italy’s Guido Migliozzi two shots further back after his 67.
“A little bit unexpected to be honest,” Donald sheepishly admitted, “I wasn’t showing much form coming into this week. Feeling a bit better about my game.”
“This isn’t an easy course, you can’t fake it around here. You have to stand up on certain tee shots with trouble on both sides. It plays with your mind a little bit, so to shoot a good score like that is always nice and good for your confidence.”
Australian Min Woo Lee continued the form that saw him notch up back to back third place finishes in his last two appearances, getting to four under par with his round of 68, alongside Fabrizio Zanotti of Paraguay and England’s Richard Bland.
Edoardo Molinari, one of Donald’s vice-captains for next year’s Ryder Cup in Rome, is amongst five players a shot further back at three under par.
There are no Irish players in the field this week.