When it comes to motivation, Ryan Fox didn’t glean much from being bypassed for a Presidents Cup captain’s pick a few weeks back.
However, as he navigated St. Andrews’ Old Course to the tune of 4-under 68 and a one-shot victory Sunday at the Alfred Dunhill Links, Fox was spurred on by something else: his late pro-am partner.
“To be honest the only person I can really think of at the moment is Warnie,” Fox said on the 18th green afterward.
Fox, the 35-year-old son of New Zealand rugby player Grant Fox, had paired with Australian cricket legend Shane Warne a few times in this event, including last year when the duo finished second. That marked the last appearance for Warne, a regular at the Dunhill Links who died from a suspected heart attack last March at age 52.
“There was definitely some extra motivation there this week,” Fox added later. “Maybe not so much the Presidents Cup, but definitely to try to do something special for Warnie … and I'm pretty proud to have been able to accomplish that.”
Fox, who ended last year at No. 213 in the world rankings, is now expected to rise inside the top 25, all but clinching a Master berth once invites are handed out to the world’s top 50 at year’s end. It’s been a career year for Fox, who has amassed three runner-up finishes to go along with two wins.
But entering the Dunhill Links, Fox had been in a month-long slump, which could’ve explained why the long-hitting Fox didn’t get the nod to be on International captain Trevor Immelman’s 12-man squad at bomber’s paradise Quail Hollow last week. He had two missed cuts and a withdrawal at the BMW PGA in between in his past three starts prior to winning his third career DP World Tour title.
The key to righting the ship? Some help from above.
“I definitely feel like [Warne] was there with me today,” Fox said. “Obviously, I did a few times this week. It's always been a special week for me. The last, I think, four years, I've got to play with Warnie, who was one of my idols growing up. He absolutely loved this tournament. Last time I saw him, we were here last year, and ran second in the team event … and he was absolutely buzzing, and they be crashed after too many vodka Red Bulls the night before, as he tended to do around here.
“He was missed by a lot of people this week, especially me. It was a strange feeling at the start of the week, but also felt like he was there helping out, and it was certainly nice to do it for him this week.”
Asked what Warne would’ve said to him Sunday evening, Fox explained, “I probably can't say what he would be saying, to be honest, knowing Warnie.”
He then offered a bit: “But he would be also trying to figure out how many vodka Red Bulls we could get in that trophy, which I'm thinking is quite a few.”