CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (April 23, 2011) -- Ryan Fox confirmed why he was favourite for the Lion Foundation New Zealand Stroke Play with a dominant five shot win in warm conditions at the Russley Golf Club in Christchurch.
Fox, who won his first national title at the North Island Stroke Pay by 11 shots a few weeks back, added a coveted piece of silverware to his collection as he eyes turning pro at the end of 2011.
The difference in the end was the Royal Auckland golfer’s big hitting and attacking iron-play – it helped him birdie three holes in a row midway on the back nine and put the title beyond reach in the early afternoon sun.
He led by seven shots heading down the last but double bogeyed the final hole after losing his ball from the tee.
It didn’t matter as Fox’s attack at all costs game came to the fore when it mattered most to secure the biggest win of his amateur career.
“I play aggressive – that is my game and I am really proud of getting it done today,” said Fox.
“This course hasn’t played easy all week so it’s been good to finish under par and secure this win.
“I feel like I have figured out how to win and my game is better than it has been for a while, the results are coming which gives me confidence.”
The statistics don’t lie: Fox is 66 under par for all the stroke play events he has played in 2011 and has won his last four tournaments in a row in New Zealand. He goes into the New Zealand Amateur as the number one seed.
“It was my goal at the start of the week to win the Stroke play – Match play double and I have given myself a chance of doing that which I’m looking forward to.”
Ryan’s Dad, the legendary All Black Grant Fox, caddied for him throughout the week.
He rides the highs and lows of the emotional roller coaster of his son’s golf and was bursting with pride as his 24-year-old son came home strong.
“This moment is pretty special,” said the 46- test veteran.
“He didn’t drive that well today but his short game was superb.
“He has been working hard towards this and I was proud of how he handled the pressure coming home.”
It was a special moment for the Fox’s to share.
“We have a great father – son relationship and caddy – player relationship. Out on the course I am the boss and he is just there to make sure I don’t do anything stupid.
“We’ll enjoy this one together and it’s great to have him here – it means a lot.”
Fox follows in the footsteps of some greats of New Zealand golf who have won the prestigious title.
Names like Grant Moorhead (1991), Marcus Wheelhouse (1992, 1993), Gareth Paddison (1999) and Tim Wilkinson (2000) are all engraved in the New Zealand Strokeplay title.
“It’s a who’s who of New Zealand golf and I am proud to add my name to that list,” said Fox.
It was all smiles at the prize giving but at the halfway stage there were a few nervous moments.
After a ropey-run heading into the turn, where he dropped back to back shots on 9 and 10 to reduce his lead to four, the big-hitting Aucklander secured the win with a golden stretch of golf midway on the back nine.
His three birdies in a row from 11th showed his quality and why many believe he has a bright future ahead in the game.
“That was the tournament right there,” said Fox senior.
“When he birdied three in a row there he put it beyond doubt.”
For that series of holes Fox was on fire and showed that when he is on his game there is daylight between him and the field – with the exception of World No.6 Ben Campbell who had a 71 in round four for a share of fourth place.
While Fox was superb, all of his rivals capitulated around the pressure of contending a national title.
Thomas Spearman –Burn, who shot the lights out in a superb six under 66 in round three, couldn’t add to his New Zealand Amateur title of 2008 with a seven over par 79.
The long haired Vaughan McCall (79) of the Gore Golf Club after a 69 in round three, was similarly erratic and local favourite Keelan Kilpatrick (75) made a short charge that faded.
Another Russley golfer Shaun Jones finished runner up at even for the tournament after a three over par 75 in the final round while Aussie golfer Blake McGrory finished third (72).
The result mirrored the North Island Stroke Play where Fox won by 11 shots and 13-year-old Lydia Ko won by one.