Game mode: How Ryan Fox adjusted to life in the bubble

Kiwi Ryan Fox is spending hours at a time immersed in Assassin’s Creed and other Xbox favourites whilst in the European Tour ‘bubble’ and believes it contributed to his top-10 finish in last week’s resumption at the Betfred British Masters.

The European Tour’s six-week UK swing moves to Birmingham in England this week for the Hero Open where Fox is hoping to build on his tie for eighth at the British Masters, his first four-round tournament since the New Zealand Open in early March.

A 13-stroke win in the three-round Briscoes Wairakei Invitational Pro-Am in June instilled some confidence in the 2019 ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit winner prior to leaving New Zealand but he credits hours spent on the Xbox for being able to adjust quickly to the United Kingdom time zone.

Fox only arrived into the UK on the Sunday prior to the Wednesday start at Close House Golf Club and was thankful to have something to occupy his time as all players adjust to the strict protocols necessary for the tournaments to go ahead.

“I know it sounds a bit silly for a 33-year-old but it’s a nice way to kill a few hours,” Fox said of his unusual travel item.

“When I arrived today I couldn’t go to the gym because I hadn’t got my negative coronavirus test result back.

“I had to kill four hours somehow and it’s either watch Netflix or play Xbox.

“Last week it probably helped me a lot. If I’d been watching TV or watching something on my iPad I might have fallen asleep and whacked myself a little bit harder with jetlag. But having something slightly more interactive I could at least make it to 8 o’clock, 9 o’clock and then crash and feel like I got almost a normal night’s sleep.

“I was playing Assassin’s Creed. I enjoy those big, open-world games that you just feel like you can get lost in and not think about anything else.

“It’s a nice way to kill a few hours and I certainly killed quite a few hours last week on it.

“It can get a little bit addictive but I’m not complaining at this point because I’ve got three months by myself in a hotel room.”

With games such as Jedi Fallen Order, Far Cry, Fallout 4 and Forza 7 all at the ready, Fox is prepared as best he can be for six weeks spent largely in solitary isolation.

He can eat breakfast, lunch and dinner only in the company of his caddy for the next six weeks, Northern Irishman Chris Selfridge, and everyone has to retire to their own rooms when not on the golf course or dining.

Granted an exemption into the US Open from September 17-20, Fox is facing the prospect of a largely lonely existence until late October.

Englishman Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston made the decision to leave the bubble after just nine holes of the British Masters last week and Fox has no doubt that other players will face similar mental health challenges in the weeks to come.

“Beef came out last week and decided that it wasn’t for him and I’m sure there are other guys who probably made that decision before they even got into the bubble,” explained Fox.

“For the rest of us, there are going to be some people losing the plot after these next six weeks.

“It’s pretty lonely and pretty boring at times. It’s pretty normal out on the golf course but you don’t have all the social side of tour golf that you normally get.

“None of that is happening at this point so guys are stuck with their own thoughts for a while which can be damaging to tour pros at times.

“It’s just a product of the current situation. I think of all of us are certainly hoping it does loosen up slightly in the coming months but for these six weeks at least it’s going to be relatively strict.

“It’s quite strange.”

As for what happens when he completes all the games in his current Xbox library, Fox has his eye on a September release to get him through until he returns home.

“The one I’m looking forward to is Tony Hawk Pro Skater,” said Fox, currently 20th in the Race to Dubai standings.

“They’re redoing 1 and 2 which I remember playing as a kid. I absolutely loved them so I’ll certainly be ordering those when they come out in September.

“A little bit of nostalgia is always good.

“I go between sports and the open-world games where you run around.

“They might take 30 hours to complete the game if you do it half properly. I’m going to have a lot of 30-hour slots to kill over the next few months.”

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