Family support helping golfer Ryan Fox at British Open

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New Zealand golfer Ryan Fox hopes the arrival of his family spurs him on to a good result at the British Open, which starts at Royal St George’s tonight.

Ryan Fox
Photo: Matthew Harris Golf Collection

The Open is operating under strict Covid-19 protocols, with players having to remain in household bubbles of no more than four people, while visits to restaurants, bars and supermarkets are prohibited.

Fox’s wife Anneke and six-month-old daughter Isabel joined him in the UK at the start of the week, with Fox having spent the past seven weeks playing on the European Tour without his family.

“It’s pretty tough. It’s a little easier now for us than it was this time last year when I came back to the UK after the pandemic started, but it’s also a little more confusing,” Fox said.

“Countries are opening up more and more and we’re still under the same restrictions we were a year ago. The bubble is less restrictive, but it’s a bit more frustrating because you can’t quite understand or comprehend some of the rules that you’re being made to follow.

“My family’s up here this week so bubble life certainly got a whole lot better for me this week and going forward.

“It was a pretty lonely existence up until the last week so looking forward to actually being able to socialise with people and spend some time with my daughter.”

The presence of Isabel and Anneke have given Fox a lift.

“It’s nice being able to go home, now that they’re up here, and regardless of how good or bad a day I’ve had it doesn’t matter to Isabel whatsoever. I’m just dad, she’s probably got no comprehension of playing golf.

Ryan Fox

Ryan Fox
Photo: Photosport

“Obviously they’ve only just got up here so I don’t know if it’s going to have any effect on performance but just mentally knowing when they were coming up and I’d see them in a week or so I felt a whole lot better about the Tour, golf, everything like that.

“Having them here this week definitely I’m a bit more relaxed, a bit happier with everything and it does make the bubble a lot less frustrating.

“So hopefully that translates into better golf and I know there’s been a few guys play really well after having kids, it kind of put everything in perspective, and I certainly hope that works like that for me as well.”

Isabel did wake Fox up at 2:30 in the morning before his first practice round at Royal St George’s, but it hasn’t dampened his excitement for his fifth British Open.

The New Zealand no.1 finished in a share of 49th in 2015, missed the cut in 2017, tied for 39th place in 2018 and finished in a share of 16th in 2019.

“I’ve learnt a lot in my previous Opens. Just to get the experience of playing with the best in the world the first couple I had was awesome and then to figure out that links golf was something I really enjoyed and felt like I could do really well at was probably the next couple.

“Portrush was pretty cool to finish in the top 20 a couple of years ago. It’s my best finish in a major and feels like if I play well I can compete with the top players in the world.”

It is his first time at Royal St George’s but expects the course it will suit him.

“I’ve always enjoyed links golf. You’ve got to control your ball really well. You’ve got to deal with the conditions as well.

“I’ve always enjoyed that style of golf, the creativity involved so hopefully that puts me in good stead for this week as well.

“Royal St George’s has a bit of a history with outsiders winning, I guess that’s the best way to put it, so I certainly wouldn’t mind that being me up near the top this week.”

Fox enters the British Open in indifferent form. He finished in a share of 44th place at the Scottish Open last week, after missing the cut and finishing near the foot of the leaderboard at the Irish Open the week previous.

He has yet to record a top 10 finish since rejoining the European Tour in late May.

“The game is close. I haven’t probably quite put it all together yet. I had a bad week in Ireland the week before but I figured it out a little bit more last week in Scotland.”

“Golf’s kind of a funny game. All you need is something small to click and you can start shooting some really good scores so I’m working hard to make sure that happens for this week and for the rest of the year going forward.”

Daniel Hillier

Daniel Hillier
Photo: Photosport

Ryan Fox played a practice round with fledgling New Zealand professional Daniel Hillier, who is the only fellow countryman in the British Open field this week.

“It’s cool to be able to support him and see the next generation of Kiwi golfers coming up. I played a bit of golf with him when I was back home on the Charles Tour and he’s got a lot of game so I’m looking forward to seeing how he plays this week,” Fox said.

“Growing up in Wellington…he controls the ball very nicely and shouldn’t have any problem with links golf.

“As far as I’m concerned Dan’s got all the pieces there, it’s just trying to figure it out in his head and feel comfortable this week.

“He’s had some major experience before [so] hopefully that puts him in good stead as well.”

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