As Ryan Fox talks to 1News over Zoom – his first media call from home since his historic European Tour PGA Championship win – one thing is constant, his phone pinging with messages of congratulations and support.
“I've got so many messages, I might not be able to get back to everyone,” Fox said, almost apologetically and with a slightly sore head.
“I just appreciate the support, it's been awesome and, as Kiwi sports fans, we've got a lot to look forward to with the Warriors, the All Blacks, the Blackcaps so I just hope everyone goes well.”
That’s a side that endears the 36-year-old to sports fans, both home and abroad. In the middle of his biggest success, and let’s not downplay the significance of this win, he’s still got time to single out other teams hoping to scale their own mountains.
His victory on the fairways at Wentworth Golf Club in Surrey is up there with the most significant in our history, such was the strength of the field. Fox becoming the first Kiwi to win the prestigious tournament, the true significance of which only started to sink in when he received the trophy.
“(I looked) at the winners on that trophy – I mean Arnold Palmer’s on it, Seve (Ballesteros) is on it, (Sir Nick) Faldo’s on it, Monty (Colin Montgomerie) is on it. I mean, it’s a pretty good list, I don’t think it’s quite sunk in."
But even the list he beat just to win this year’s edition is about as impressive as it gets in the current climate. Even Fox himself in amazement at reading the names – his incredulity picked up by the European Tour’s social media team, who put a microphone on him before he went to collect his trophy at the presentation.
Fox could be heard turning to his wife Anneke saying, "do you like that leaderboard?"
He’d just beaten names like Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Adam Scott, Tommy Fleetwood, Viktor Hovland and Tyrrell Hatton.
“I completely forgot I was mic’d up,” he laughs. “But that was the first time I’d looked at the leaderboard. But then standing there and it was up there, I’ve literally gone ‘holy s##t’, excuse my French. It was a who’s who of European golf up there, basically most of the European Ryder Cup team. I felt like I had earned it.”
The now world number 31 has also earned something else too, something that’s been a career-long dream – earning his PGA Tour card. With seven events remaining on the season, Fox is third on the European Tour’s rankings for the year, and comfortably clear for a card for the top-10 players not already exempt for the top-tier PGA Tour in the States. It means he will have a full card there next year.
“I haven’t really had time to think about it (the PGA Tour card). It obviously makes things a lot easier, knowing I’ve got guaranteed status locked up,” Fox explains.
He also gets three years guaranteed on the European Tour after this season.
“I’d like to play some events out here regardless – come back and defend this one (the PGA Championship), the Alfred Dunhill Links is one of my favourites, there’s a couple of events in the Middle East that I love, the Irish Open is obviously an event I’ve really enjoyed over the years.
"I haven't really thought about the schedule next year, but it just makes all the decision making a whole lot easier. If I want to try the PGA Tour full-time I can do that and know I've got a job regardless for next year which, for this game, you don't get a whole lot of job security sometimes, so to have certainty makes everything nice for next year, it takes a lot of the pressure off.”
If you’ve got this far, you might also be wondering about the celebrations after his win. Fox was hosted by the Wentworth Club, enjoying some drinks with members, his family and close friends, Aussie duo Minwoo Lee and Jason Scrivener.
“Then just had a couple of people come back to our place, which is five minutes from Wentworth. (We) got the kids to bed, polished off a couple of bottles of French red, so I'm hurting a little bit this morning as expected.”
It’s probably a hangover he can handle, after this career highlight.