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After rounds of 63, 69 and 65, it seemed that Ryan Fox was going to cruise to his first title since 2019. However, on a final day where many were going low with their scoring, Fox struggled, with his early defensive play seeing his six shot overnight advantage reduced to just two strokes at one point.
But the New Zealander recovered superbly, with a few birdies on his back nine steadying the ship and giving him a five shot victory, his first since the 2019 ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth.
"I'm so relieved!" revealed Fox (opens in new tab) after his round. "It was a bit of a struggle today. Sleeping on a six shot lead, I did not sleep well last night. Obviously a couple of guys came at me early and I had that nervous feeling inside my stomach all day, but I'm happy with how I played. I hit some great shots coming down the stretch there.
"I just kept plugging away and there were a few big momentum putts on the back nine. There was one on the 10th for par and then that birdie putt on 12 which kind of kicked started everything. I got away with the tee shot there, but thankfully the hole got in the way with my putt. It looked good all the way and it just gave me that bit more of a buffer."
A second DP World Tour title 🏆#RakGolfClassic pic.twitter.com/WyTtS4AsNSFebruary 13, 2022
Beginning the final round, Fox didn't look overly comfortable as he missed a 15-inch putt for par at the 4th hole. A birdie and bogey followed, however his mood wouldn't have felt good as he saw his six shot advantage reduced to just two shots inside the first six holes!
Because of his scrappy start, the trio of Justin Harding, Robert MacIntyre (opens in new tab) and Pablo Larrazabal caught up significantly, with all three comfortably under-par for their opening holes.
A birdie at the par-5 eighth hole seemed to give Fox some confidence though. Add in the fact that the chasing pack had stalled slightly and the New Zealander soon found himself three shots clear heading into the back nine.
Holing a near 50-foot birdie putt on the 12th, the 35-year-old found yet another birdie at the 13th, with his lead extending to four shots with just five holes remaining.
44ft of perfection 👌#RakGolfClassic pic.twitter.com/QJmys7X6ntFebruary 13, 2022
A run of pars followed for Fox, as the chasing pack continued to struggle behind the New Zealander. And, after two almighty blows at the 72nd hole, the title was his, with Fox two-putting for a closing birdie and comfortable five shot margin of victory.
"I think I must have walked about 25 kilometres today with how much pacing I was doing around the greens!" laughed Fox (opens in new tab). "I was definitely thinking about the family coming down the last few holes. It was big for them, they have to come over to Europe every year and that is a little bit harder with the little one now. This win will hopefully make it a little bit easier for them to do that."
Matt studied Sports Journalism at Southampton Solent University, graduating in 2019. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly and the PGA, he covers all aspects of the game, from Tour news to equipment testing and buyers’ guides. Taking up the game at the age of six, Matt currently holds a handicap of 3 and despite not having a hole in one…yet, he has had two albatrosses. His favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.
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