Sport - Golf - Ryan Fox BMW PGA Championship
Ryan Fox birdied the final hole at Wentworth to claim the BMW PGA Championship Image Credit: AP

Kiwi Ryan Fox has claimed his first Rolex Series trophy and fourth DP World Tour tournament at the 2023 BMW PGA Championship.

The 36-year-old from Auckland started the final round at Wentworth three shots off the lead which was held by Swedish superstar Ludvig Åberg.

Åberg struggled early on, a four over front nine ended his chances. The leader was soon replaced by Englishman Tyrrell Hatton, five birdies in his opening seven holes meant he was the new man to catch.

Fox opened the tournament with rounds of 69, 68, 66 but his final round started off not the way he had planned. A triple-bogey seven on his third hole had dropped him back from the leaders. But then a burst of six birdies in nine holes between the 6th and 14th ignited him. It was then starting to look like a two-horse race between Hatton and Fox.

Roles reversed

There was then a delay of just over one hour due to thunder and lightning in the area as Hatton held the lead at 17 under through 14 holes, with Fox just one shot back. Once play resumed Hatton dropped a shot on 15th and Fox birdied it as the roles were reversed and the lead was now held by Fox.

With Hatton pushing for the lead, he did manage to claim a birdie on the final hole, his first gain since the 11th, after an up and down.

When Fox tee'd it up on the 72nd hole, like Hatton, he also had to layup after missing the fairway with his tee shot. Knowing that Hatton had set the clubhouse lead at 17 under after a final round 66, Fox hit a similar third shot to five foot.

But there was still further drama to come. Fox’s playing partner Aaron Rai was standing over 30 foot away from the hole on 18 and had the opportunity for eagle to jump ahead to 18 under. With the ball tracking on line, the Englishman who sat 226th in the Race To Dubai Rankings, even raised his arm in an early celebration, only to lip out at the last moment.

That meant the pressure was back on Fox, but calmly as he always is, he holed his eighth birdie of the day and clinched the flagship event on the DP World Tour.

“I don’t really know what to think. I have always struggled round here in the past. I played great and didn’t really miss a shot from after the third hole onwards” said an emotional Fox.

"We have been through a pretty tough year as a family. We lost my father-in-law in June after a really, really short battle with cancer and that kind of rocked the family. It's been tough going back and forth. I've got an almost three-year-old and a four-month-old standing over there and to have them here to support with a place pretty close by where we can stay at home this week just made the week."

Victory for Fox moves him up to third on the Race To Dubai Rankings in partnership with Rolex, cementing his spot at the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai in November.

Event infrastructure company Arena Group, based in Dubai, are sponsors of multiple DP World Tour winner Fox, as they further committment to giving back to the game, especially on the European Challenge Tour. A tour which Fox graduated from in 2016.

World Number Three Jon Rahm was 16 under after a 68, one ahead of Ryder Cup team-mate Viktor Hovland and two clear of Dubai-resident Tommy Fleetwood.

Major champion Rory McIlroy made a charge through the field with a closing 65 and finished at 13 under alongside Australian Adam Scott and England's Callum Shinkwin.

Next up on the DP World Tour is the Cazoo Open de France at Le Golf National, France.