Ryan Fox continued his remarkable form on European soil as the New Zealander marched clear at the prestigious ROLEX Trophy courtesy of a ten under par opening round 62 at Golf Club de Genève.
The son of former All Black legend Grant Fox carded no less than three eagles and added four birdies to that tally to move one shot clear in Geneva and continue his incredible rise on the European Challenge Tour.
The 28 year old has played four regular Challenge Tour events, winning once at Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge in France, and claiming a top five finish as well as a top ten in two of his other three appearances.
Add a top ten in the dual-ranking Madeira Islands Open – Portugal – BPI and a tied 49th place finish in The Open Championship at St Andrews to the mix and it is easy to see why Fox entered this week’s limited-field event in Switzerland in such buoyant mood.
Fox was surprised to have produced such flawless golf after a long journey from his home city of Auckland, but was delighted to have picked up from where he left off in Madeira earlier this month.
Honestly I did not expect to do so well when I decided to travel to Europe.
“I don't know what it is about French speaking countries but they really suit me,” he said. “It is a very nice place this week, I didn't know what happened today because I didn't show any good form yesterday.
“I had 30 hours of travel getting here, arriving on Monday night, so I wasn't expecting too much. It turned out very, very good today.
“Honestly I did not expect to do so well when I decided to travel to Europe. The dream was probably to get into this event with a limited amount of starts to be able to go until the end of the year. I have certainly more than exceeded my expectation, obviously really enjoying my time.
“I have never holed three eagles in a round before and I think the longest putt I holed was nine feet at the fifth. I drove really well on three of the par fives and hit three really good iron shots, two inside three feet, and the rest of the day I played really, really solid.”
The ROLEX Trophy is the only event of the Challenge Tour season which features a Pro-Am format, with the 42-man field playing alongside juniors on the opening day before playing with amateur players for the final three days.
Fox admitted that it did help his game in the opening round and thinks it was a contributing factor to his spectacular round.
“I think playing with a team in the Pro-Am format makes us play more relaxed,” he said. “I guess you think less about your own score and more about the team score.
“And I have played with Jack Senior as an amateur, so there’s a history there. It was great playing with him and we had a couple good junior amateurs to play with so it was just a good day, really relaxing.
“The team is important. It is a Pro-Am event for the whole week, and obviously there is money at the end of the event, but our job for the week is to give the amateurs a good time, hopefully to play well and make a good contribution for the team. I am definitely happy to have done that today.”
Two-time winner Nacho Elvira led the chasing pack after the Spaniard carded a nine under par 63 which comprised seven birdies and an eagle.
The 28 year old from Madrid is aiming to become the third player in the space of five years to make the ROLEX Trophy their third victory of the season – which earns automatic graduation to The European Tour – after Benjamin Hebert and Kristoffer Broberg achieved that feat in 2011 and 2012, respectively.
Frenchman Thomas Linard is a shot further back on eight under par after an opening 64, while 2013 champion of this event, Jens Dantorp, is one of three players three shots off the pace on seven under par.
The Swede, who was joined in a share of fourth by 17 year old German sensation Dominic Foos and Irishman Ruaidhri McGee, was encouraged by the fact that he excelled midway through the week two years ago as he looks to make it three Swedish wins in five years at the €230,000 tournament.
“I think when I won, I had good second and third rounds,” said the 26 year old, who carded six birdies in succession after the turn.
“On the back nine, I started to hit it close and made the putts. On the front nine, I struggled to hit it close and I didn't hit very good putts, but I like the course. I like the visuals of the course and I have obviously very good memories from two years ago.”