Ryan Fox etched his name into folklore by shooting the lowest back nine in Open history in the first round at Royal Portrush.
The New Zealander’s opening round was on the rocks when he stood at +3 through 11 but six birdies in the final seven holes turned things around and ensured a place in the history books.
No-one had ever shot sub-30 on the back nine at an Open – but Fox gained a stroke on the 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 17th and 18th to complete it in 29 and sign for a round of 68, for a spot in the top five on the leaderboard.
From rugby to Open records
The 32-year-old’s heroics perhaps shouldn’t come as a complete surprise given his family’s sporting pedigree; ex-All Blacks rugby star Grant Fox is his father, while he is also the grandson of cricketer Merv Wallace.
Fox was a talented rugby player himself but gave up the sport due to concussions and switched his focus to golf.
He turned professional back in 2012 and earned his first win on the European Tour in February this year – at the World Super 6 Perth – although this latest feat tops the list of his most impressive career achievements.
However, the man himself didn’t even realise he was on course for a record as he was breaking it.
"It's pretty good considering how I started,” said Fox “I didn't know it at the time but it's nice to know it was a record.
“Sometimes you need something to click. I was getting frustrated over the first nine holes but then I changed my mindset and saw a few starting to go in."
From scratchy to history
By his own admission, Fox’s form hasn’t been the most stellar recently but a focus on enjoying himself finally paid dividends on the biggest stage.
“My golf has been a little bit scratchy lately and I thought it was going to be another one of those days [after being three-over through 11] but I made an eight-footer for birdie on 12 and felt a bit better,” he said.
“A few went in over those last seven holes and it’s nice to turn in a score like that – it’s been a long time coming.
“I’m just trying to get out of my own way at the moment – I’ve been a little bit down on myself, frustrated and thinking about the technical stuff too much. I’ve been trying to just enjoy myself and that finally worked. ” Ryan Fox on his recent struggles
"It’s really hard to do – I’ve missed seven cuts in a row and been trying to do that for seven weeks.
“To figure it out in a major is certainly nice – there’s a long way to go but it’s the first round in a while where I had some fun and some control over the golf ball.”