Kiwi Ryan Fox’s sensational recent form continued as he produced a brilliant burst of scoring after the turn to open up a one-shot lead on the first day of the 2022 Horizon Irish Open.
The New Zealander began at the tenth tee on Thursday morning and reached the turn in 34 shots courtesy of birdies at each of the back nine’s par fives – the tenth and 17th.
His round sprang into life after the turn, with four birdies in a row from the first taking him to six under before further gains at the sixth and eighth saw him sign for a bogey-free 64 and reach eight under par.
Frenchman Frederic Lacroix was among those a shot further back in a tie for second after following up last week’s top-ten at the BMW International Open with an opening 65 which contained two eagles on the back nine.
Later starters Marcel Schneider, Jorge Campillo and Fabrizio Zanotti joined Lacroix on seven under par in the afternoon but no-one was able to catch Fox at the summit.
Two-time DP World Tour winner Fox came into this week’s tournament in a rich vein of form, having recorded three top-three finishes in his last five events.
And he continued to impress on day one at Mount Juliet Estate, kicking off his week with a close-range birdie on the tenth.
His next birdie arrived at the 17th – again from inside four feet – before two more excellent approach shots at the first and second yielded further birdies.
Fox made it three in a row from 30 feet on the short third before adding a fourth at the next from eight feet.
A par on the long fifth ended the run but he picked up his seventh shot of the day from 21 feet at the sixth before getting to eight under with a slow birdie putt from 12 feet on the eighth green.
Fox, who has already won once this season – at the Ras al Khaimah Classic in February – said: “I feel really happy with where I am on the golf course and off the golf course, and that’s a nice place to be.
“Just go out and try to hit a good shot. If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen.
“And there’s definitely some confidence there. I feel really comfortable here, where my game’s at.
“And it’s obviously a recipe for success. I’ve got close a few times the last few weeks. It’d certainly be nice to get another one over the line.
“But it’s pretty hard to win out here, and being in contention every week is pretty taxing as well. So I’m excited to do it, and hopefully I’ve got another chance this week.
“To be honest, everything was (working well today).
“The short game kept me in it early and a couple of good up-and-downs. My wedge play was really good and on top of that I holed a couple of nice putts.
“So it’s just one of those days where everything went really well and I managed to keep it in the fairway for the most part, which around this golf course, if you’re in the rough, that’s pretty tough out there, which I found sort of through the first six holes.”
West Australian Curtis Luck has put himself in contention for his first win in nearly two years as he opened the Korn Ferry Tour’s The Ascendant with a five-under par 67 at TPC Colorado.
Luck produced two stunning surges with a hat-trick of birdies at the fourth, fifth and sixth, and another birdie trio at the 14th, 15th and 16th to be in a seven-way share of second, one shot off the lead.
The 25-year-old could hardly put a foot wrong off the tee courtesy of hitting 92.86% of fairways.