Ryan Fox’s wild PGA Championship lead-in surprisingly has him in contention

Ryan Fox of New Zealand waits to play his tee shot on the 14th hole during the first round of the 2023 PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club on May 18, 2023 in Rochester, New York.

Ryan Fox was way too early for his tee time Thursday.

Getty Images

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Ryan Fox arrived at Oak Hill for his 7:33 a.m. first-round tee time at the PGA Championship just like he would for any other round, about 90 minutes early.

Thursday, that meant he left his hotel at 5:30 a.m.

Unfortunately, that was before the PGA of America announced what became a frost delay, pushing back his tee time to 9:23.

“I was due to see my physio at 6:00, and I was going to have breakfast beforehand,” Fox said after his round. “Just as I got to the golf course, I got the text.

“I certainly would have liked another hour and a bit in bed, but I can go and have a pretty nice nap this afternoon.”

But considering his last few weeks, goodness, it’s hard to blame him.

Fox said he first got sick over the weekend at Augusta National, where he finished tied for 26th in his debut there. Then he still wasn’t feeling better four days later when he withdrew from the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head.

After a return trip home to New Zealand, he quickly found the culprit.

“Got told I caught pneumonia, which pretty much explained why I felt so bad,” he said. “I had a couple of weeks off just being dad and trying to recover from that. That took a fair while on antibiotics to get over that.”

By the time he did finally recover from his illness — and he still doesn’t feel he’s 100 percent — it was already time to turn his focus toward the PGA.

“I had a few sleepless nights and not a lot of practice,” Fox said.

When he did finally get a chance to head back to the golf course and get ready for this week, mother nature got in the way.

“One of the days I was supposed to go to practice, Auckland flooded for the third time this year,” Fox said. “So I think I drove around Auckland in chaos — 27 kilometers in four hours.”

He did show up at Oak Hill for nine holes, then added 18 Tuesday and another nine Wednesday to get his game back in order.

‘Horrendously slow’: This PGA Championship hole halts play to a standstill
By: Jack Hirsh

“It wasn’t quite the ideal preparation for a major,” he said. “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.”

The schedule didn’t seem to bother him too much on Thursday. He posted a two-under 68, one of the top scores in the delayed morning wave and just three shots off the Thursday evening lead.

And despite his solid play in the opening round, where he took just 24 putts and was fifth in the field in strokes gained: putting, he still felt his game was “rusty.” He said he typically likes to play the week before a major.

But after everything he’s been through over the past few weeks, it was hard to complain too much about Thursday’s wakeup.

“I’m standing here talking to you guys now, so it’s not bad,” he said before departing for some much-needed rest.

Exit mobile version