Ryan Fox mixed four birdies with two bogeys to post a two-under 68 during a frost-delayed opening round at the PGA Championship, his first appearance since pneumonia; Watch throughout the week live on Sky Sports Golf
By Ali Stafford at Oak Hill
Last Updated: 18/05/23 11:48pm
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Ryan Fox speaks about recently overcoming pneumonia and the sleepless nights he’s experiencing after welcoming his second child in the build-up to the 2023 PGA Championship
New Zealand’s Ryan Fox admitted he exceeded his own expectations after bouncing backing from an eventful month to make an impressive start to the PGA Championship.
Fox fell ill during his debut at The Masters and withdrew during his opening round at the RBC Heritage a week later, with the 36-year-old diagnosed with pneumonia and taking time away from the game after flying home to New Zealand.
The three-time DP World Tour winner also welcomed the arrival of his second daughter Margot in recent weeks, limiting his practice ahead of the second men’s major of the year, with Fox only arriving back in the United States on Sunday before heading to Oak Hill on Monday morning.
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Fox was one of the early starters for a frost-delayed opening round, where he briefly held the outright lead before a penultimate-hole bogey saw him post a two-under 68 and fall two strokes behind clubhouse leader Bryson DeChambeau.
“It’s been an interesting last month,” Fox said. “At the Masters I was pretty sick on the weekend. Tried to play Hilton Head, withdrew from there after nine holes, just feeling awful. Got home and got told I caught pneumonia, which pretty much explained why I felt so bad.
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“Basically as soon as I got over that, our daughter was born, which was just over two weeks ago now. So I had a few sleepless nights and not a lot of practice. One of the days I was supposed to go to practice, Auckland flooded for the third time this year. So I think I drove around Auckland [covering] 27 kilometres in four hours in chaos.
“It wasn’t quite the ideal preparation for a major, but I was kind of hoping the fact I needed a break after a busy start to the year and being mentally fresh would have been important this week. It’s pretty surprising to have four weeks off and shoot 68, especially when the course is pretty brutal if you are out of position.”
Play was delayed by an hour and 50 minutes, although Fox was not aware of the later start until he had already arrived at the course.
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“I was due to see my physio at 6am and I was going to have breakfast beforehand. Just as I got to the golf course, I got the text,” Fox added. “I certainly would have liked another hour and a bit in bed, but I can go and have a pretty nice nap!”
Hovland: ‘Boring golf’ will help contend
Fox was joined two off the pace by Norway’s Viktor Hovland, who recovered from two bogeys in his opening three holes to also card a two-under 68, with the pair two of only seven players in the morning wave to post an under par round.
“I stayed really patient [on Thursday],” Hovland said. “I didn’t have a very good start and luckily I was able to make three birdies in a row right after that. I just really tried to do a good job of hitting middle of the greens, just giving myself a lot of putts, and I felt like I did a really good job of that today.
“I’m still learning but I feel like I’ve learned a lot from past experiences [of contending]. In these tough tests, I’ve been trying to force birdies too much and now I just need to kind of try to play my game, hit the middle of the greens, pick up a couple birdies here and there and just play boring golf.
“Hopefully on Sunday that’s good enough to win it, instead of trying to push for flags that I’m not supposed to push for.”
Watch the 105th PGA Championship throughout the week live on Sky Sports. Live coverage continues on Friday from 1pm on Sky Sports Golf.