Delighted Ryan Fox equals record in his surge to Northern Ireland Open glory
Kiwi Ryan Fox equalled the course record at Galgorm Castle as he stormed to victory at the Tayto Northern Ireland Open, in partnership with Ulster Bank.
The 29-year-old, who will represent New Zealand at the Rio Olympics, fired a nine-under-par 62 to finish on 19 under, winning by four shots.
"It was a pretty good day. I played exactly how I played all week but got really hot with the putter," said Fox, the son of New Zealand All Black legend Grant Fox. "I played really solid from tee to green. I left myself a lot of make-able putts, it got hot and it was nice to keep seeing the ball go in.
"I thought I was flirting with the magical number for a while, but a three-putt on 16 didn't help that.
"It's tricky out there. If you drive it in the rough it's brutal, I found that out a couple of times. To shoot 62 in the last round and win is pretty awesome. I'm pretty happy."
Tournament ambassador Michael Hoey played in the same group as Fox but never managed to get close enough to threaten the eventual winner.
"I'm happy to have done something this week. I wasn't at my best, but I'm happy that I did something in the tournament after missing the cut the last few years and not being able to give anything to the crowds," said Hoey. "I really enjoyed playing with Ryan. He was 10 under after 15, he's definitely a top 50 in the world player.
"That was phenomenal shooting. I thought six or seven under might be good enough but the standard out here is so high and they can shoot the scores, especially when the greens are so good."
Hoey finished the event alone in eighth on 13 under par after a final-round 68.
"It was good fun out there, the most enjoyable time on the course I've had all year and the best I've played all year. I just have to take this form into the rest of the season," added Michael, who has struggled to find any real consistency on the European Tour this season.
"I felt after a few holes that I had a chance. Missing my drive on nine didn't help (he could only manage a par to Fox's birdie) and I lost a bit of momentum and adrenaline over the closing holes when I knew I wasn't going to win.
"It was good to get a little bit of excitement and the crowds are always fantastic at Galgorm, they are not dissimilar to Irish Open crowds in some ways."
The German duo of Dominic Foos (65) and Bernd Ritthammer (65), England's Max Orrin (65) and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli (69) finished tied second.
Damien McGrane carded a final-round 68 to finish tied for ninth on 11 under, with Castledawson's Chris Selfridge a shot further back on 10 under after a closing 69.