Ryan Fox carded the best round of his DP World Tour career to storm into the lead at the Ras Al Khaimah Classica nine under 63 earning him a two-stroke lead in the Tour’s second successive event at Al Hamra Golf Club.
The New Zealander struggled with a back injury in last week’s Ras Al Khaimah Championship presented by Phoenix Capital, but a combination of physio work and a putting tip from a fellow player helped him turn things around this week.
Ten birdies and a bogey saw him soar to the summit with a 63 – a score he has once before carded at the 2018 Scottish Open, but on a par 70 course – and earned the 35-year-old the first round lead for just the third time in his DP World Tour career.
Portugal’s Ricardo Gouveia, who graduated through the Challenge Tour for a second time last year, sits in outright second place after a seven under 65, while nine players share third place on six under, including Scot Robert MacIntyre and in-form Englishman Richard Bland.
Ryan Fox: “I’m very happy, it was probably the only bad drive I hit all day on nine and left myself in a pretty bad place, but my bunker play was really solid all day. I took advantage of that and it was nice to see some putts go in today as well.
“I really enjoyed it, it’s the first time I’ve shot nine under out here on this Tour. I’ve shot some pretty low scores at home but struggled to bring that out here at times. It was nice to get in the zone, I just felt like I had control of the golf ball.
“I probably need to throw a couple of thanks out too, I struggled last week here with my back and I have my physio out here, and the Tour physio has helped me out over the weekend and I feel 100% this week which was nice .
“Shaun Norris was nice enough to give me a putting tip on Tuesday when we played a practice round together and that seemed to work pretty well too so big shout-out to those guys. It was not too complicated, he just said I need to get a bit closer to the ball, he said I was hitting it out of the toe a little bit and trying to push it out there so he said get a bit closer and it worked in the practice round, and obviously worked pretty well today as well.
“It’s pretty generous off the tee. I think I hit driver everywhere bar the tenth. I drove it really solid apart from the ninth hole, and I can get to all the par fives in two. I think there are three holes which are, depending on the win, pretty close to driveable 13, one and five.
“I hit it in the greenside trap a couple of times and got up and down. It’s the kind of golf courses where you feel like you’ve got a lot of opportunities and it was nice to take advantage of those today, and then hole a couple of longer putts on some of the tougher holes to keep the round going.
“I just need to try to keep doing what I’m doing. I worked hard today on just focusing on every shot, obviously my body felt a bit better today than last week, felt like I could do what I wanted to do and I was not fighting it so hopefully I wake up tomorrow feeling good and I can keep doing what I’m doing. ”
Ricardo Gouveia: “I am very happy, it was a great round, I played solid. I put the ball in play which was what did not happen last week, so if you do that you can create a lot of chances and I holed a lot of putts which helped.
“Mostly, my putting and driving was not good last week so I had some time to fix that after missing the cut last week, and it paid off today.
“I’m more mature this year, coming back on the main tour, and hopefully I can continue my good form from last year. I had a good start in the first couple of tournaments, last week did not go so well but that’s golf. I had a few days to practice and I played some good golf today. ”