Irish Open co-leader Ryan Fox moves closer to British Open berth

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Irish Open co-leader Ryan Fox moves closer to British Open berth

Euro Tour

Irish Open co-leader Ryan Fox moves closer to British Open berth

Ryan Fox can come out a winner this week even if he doesn’t win the $7 million Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Ballyliffin. He can book a place in the British Open if he just falls short. The 31-year-old is well placed after 36 holes.

The long-hitting Kiwi shares the lead at 8 under with France’s Matthieu Pavon and Erik van Rooyen of South Africa. They’re a shot in front of Sweden’s Joakim Lagergren. Sam Horsfield and Danny Willett are two shots behind at 6 under.

Fox returned a 3-under 69 to go with an opening 67 to get to the top of the leaderboard.

“I think I probably only hit five or six fairways but missed them in the right places, and hit a lot of good drives that just ran through fairways and gave myself a lot of chances,” Fox said.

The Auckland native isn’t eligible for the British Open, but is hoping to replicate last year’s feat of gaining a spot as one of three players in the top 10 not exempt for Carnoustie.

“I’d love to be in the Open and Carnoustie is one of the best golf courses in the world,” Fox said. “I’d love the chance to play there in an Open. If I can sneak in that top five like last year and get an Open spot, that would be great.”

Fox is in good form this season as he chases his first European Tour win. He’s only missed three of 13 cuts with two top-10s, third in the Maybank Championship and eighth in the Italian Open. He’s 40th on the money list with just under $630,000.

Horsfield has opened with consecutive 69s to get into the mix. He’s also looking for a place at Carnoustie with a good finish this week. Willett has opened with scores of 68 and 70 as he tries to get back to the sort of form that won him the 2016 Masters.

Tournament host Rory McIlroy had four bogeys on his card in a 73 that sees him sitting at T-30 on 1 under, seven shots off the lead.

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