New Zealander Ryan Fox tees it up at the Australian PGA Championship this week with his sights set on a strong start to his 2020 European Tour campaign.
The Kiwi is making his first European Tour appearance of the new season at RACV Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast hoping to carry his encouraging form from the end of 2019 into the new year.
“It has been a much nicer end to the year. If you take the Open out at Portrush, it was a very lean patch in the middle. I was pretty desperate there for a while, even when I came back from a break after the Open it was still a bit of a struggle. It was nice to find a bit of form in the back part of the season. The Dunhill Links was the start of it for me, shooting a 64 in the first round – even though I didn’t finish it off – it was the start of feeling better on the golf course. Although I haven’t quite put it together, the last six or eight events there’s been some much better golf and a lot of positives to take out of that.
“I’m in a pretty good position on the Australian Tour money list, so it’s a chance to lock that up – that goes over a calendar year. If I can do that, it’s a good start to the 2020 season for me. There’s a lot to play for this week. It’s a course I’ve played a lot, I know it fairly well and have had a couple of decent results in the past – so I’m looking forward to a good week.”
The 32-year-old also leads the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia’s Order of Merit by AUD$75,000, knowing that strong performance this week would see him win the season-long rankings in the southern hemisphere.
Fox will start this year’s tournament in the company of twice-defending champion Cameron Smith and American starlet Cameron Champ.
Looking to build on an encouraging start to his rookie year on the European Tour, Scotland’s Calum Hill is teeing it up in Australia for the first time in his career as he follows up 13th and T17 results at the Alfred Dunhill Championship and AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open.
“I’ve never been to Australia before. Coming here, I’ve had a great first impression, so I’m looking forward to getting started. I can’t complain with my start to the year. I had a chance in Mauritius but didn’t do well on the final day. As long as you can keep giving yourself chances throughout the year, I’m sure one of them will turn up.
“It’s fantastic having a group of Scottish guys, with Stevie as the experience and some of the younger guys coming through who are around my age too. To have Stevie win, Bob do great and Davey win, it’s good to see. My team are great at guiding me and showing me what I need to be doing. Of course the Rookie of the Year Award is on my mind, it has to be. If you’re not looking at that – especially coming from the same management group as Bob. You hope to achieve similar to what he has done, if that happens then you’re laughing. Fingers crossed.”
The 25-year-old graduated from the European Challenge Tour after finishing second on the Road to Mallorca Rankings and is currently 16 th on the 2020 Race to Dubai Rankings Presented by Rolex.
Bidding to follow in his brother’s footsteps as a European Tour winner is Nicolai Højgaard, whose twin Rasmus won the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open two weeks ago, becoming the third-youngest winner in the Tour’s history at the age of 18 years and 271 days.
“It would be cool to follow up my brother, but sometimes it just comes out of nowhere. I saw last season it can happen suddenly. I’m hoping for a good week here, I’m not focusing on the result. I’m trying to improve my golf, this is a kick-start to the season so it would be nice to have a good finish.
“(Rasmus winning) is a big motivator, for sure. I’m really happy for Rasmus, but I really want to do the same. I’m trying to not get carried away with his result and trying to focus a bit more on myself. If I finish second here, it’s still good. I don’t have to compare myself to him all the time. I’m happy for him, but hopefully I can follow that up this week.”
The Højgaard twins represented Europe at The 2018 Junior Ryder Cup before turning professional at the start of 2019. Nicolai’s best result so far of his burgeoning European Tour career was a runner-up finish to Sergio Garcia at the KLM Open in September.