‘I thought the dream had passed – now I’ve got nothing to lose’
Ryan Fox had nothing short of a phenomenal 2022. One of the unsung heroes of the season, the Kiwi went from a fairly unknown at the beginning of the year to challenging Rory McIlroy right down to the wire at the Race to Dubai.
In the end, it was a runner-up finish which may well leave Fox feeling aggrieved, not only because of his remarkably consistent season on the DP World Tour, but because of the fiercely competitive spirit he inherited from his father, Grant, an All Black who played a key role in New Zealand winning the 1987 Rugby World Cup.
But to the watchful eye, Fox was a name all too familiar with the top of the leaderboard this year. He had won before this season – a match play victory at the now obsolete World Super 6 in 2019 – but it was 2022 in which Fox thrived, dominating the field at the Ras Al Khaimah Classic to win by five before recording four runner-up finishes, four other top-10s, and an emotional victory at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in September.
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“It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what’s clicked this year,” Fox told NCG on The Slam podcast. “Because [my game] doesn’t feel a whole lot different. But for the most part, my putting has been really good, and that was probably my Achilles heel during my first few years on tour. I knew if I could just putt OK I would be able to contend more.”
And contend more he did, ranking 14th in Putts Per Greens in Regulation to capitalise on his outstanding ball striking and cement himself as the go-to contender on this side of the Atlantic.
It was a year which saw Fox soar up the world rankings in the process, catapulting himself from 213th to 27th in the OWGR to all but secure his spots in the majors for 2023 – beginning with a debut appearance at the Masters in April. Not bad for a self-proclaimed “journeyman” who didn’t turn professional until he was 25.
“With how I played this year, I feel like I can definitely compete with the best players in the world,” the New Zealander continued. “But majors are a different kettle of fish, and I’ve always heard Augusta is a pretty tough golf course to go to first time around. But just to be there and experience it and be a part of the history is going to be really cool.”
As for next season itself, Fox unfortunately misses out on a PGA Tour card despite finishing second in the DP World Tour Rankings, seeing as the top-10 players in the standings won’t earn spots under the new “strategic alliance” until next year.
But thanks to his incredible leap in the world rankings, Fox now holds enough status to qualify for several PGA Tour events on top of the majors – including The Players Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational – a position which gives him “everything to gain and nothing to lose” following his breakout season.
“If you’d have asked me two years ago, I would say I was more than happy playing in Europe,” Fox added. “Although the dream was always to play on the PGA Tour, I thought that dream had passed. A bit like the Masters one to be honest. But you look at it all now, and it’s within touching distance.
“It’s going to be a cool year. I’ve got everything to gain and nothing to lose. I can get some experience playing the tournaments that I grew up watching like Bay Hill and The Players. If it works great, if it doesn’t then I’ve got a second chance.
“I’d love to get a card and do it the way it’s been done the last few years – get in the top 50, get in the majors, get in some of the bigger PGA Tour events, then play well enough to play my way on. That would be the ideal scenario. So that’s the goal for next year.”
Want more from Ryan Fox?
You can listen to more of Ryan Fox discussing his incredible season, as well everything from growing up in a famous sporting family, his time with Steve Williams, major championship ambitions, Olympic memories, and an incredible Tiger Woods story on The Slam podcast.
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