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Fox in the hunt with one eye on All Blacks

 

By Adam McKendry

It's not often that a golfer in contention at a big tournament is asked immediately after his round about the New Zealand rugby team.

Then again, most golfers aren't the son of a former All Blacks legend.

Any follower of rugby will be aware of Grant Fox, the skilful playmaking fly-half who led the All Blacks to World Cup success in 1987 with his expert goal-kicking to the fore.

Fortunately for his son, Ryan, he hasn't had to use fore much himself this week, because he's been in dazzling form at the Irish Open at Portstewart and sits two shots off the overnight lead at the halfway stage.

But with a famous father, it's inevitable that the rugby questions come his way. But Fox doesn't mind - he's an avid rugby fan anyway.

So there's an added bonus to him being in today's penultimate pairing with Spaniard Jon Rahm - they're due to tee off at 1:20pm - he gets to watch the final Test between the British and Irish Lions and the All Blacks this morning.

"Yeah, I'm very happy I get to watch it!" Fox smiles. "Especially since I missed out on the last half an hour last week and didn't see any of the first Test.

"I'm going to be a bit biased and think the Lions have poked the bear a little bit. The All Blacks are generally good at fronting up after they've been beaten and Eden Park is their fortress.

"I'm hoping for an All Blacks win. I might be the only one hoping that but I'll be wearing my All Blacks jersey for sure!"

As for the golf, well it's been pretty good too.

Seven birdies - four of which were in a row between the 13th and 16th - and one bogey led to a second round 66 which, when added to his opening 67, puts him at 11-under par and in a tie for fourth place.

This from a man who has never been mentioned as a favourite, despite having form in Ulster having won last year's Northern Ireland Open at Galgorm, a title he hopes to defend next month.

But he's in a good run of form now as well, having produced an excellent performance in France last week to finish sixth, a result that has more or less guaranteed his place on the Tour next year.

With that pressure off his shoulders, the 30-year old says he's ready to give it a real go this week and improve on last week's success.

"I guess last week took some pressure off the rest of the season," he admits. "I've sort of struggled a little bit this year, so it's nice to take confidence from (France) and be able to free wheel it a bit more this week.

"I'm enjoying it so far. I love this place. Maybe not the weather so much, but we've got a fantastic golf course and I'm looking forward to giving it a run on the weekend."

The reason for his success?

"Just holing some putts," he laughs. "I saw three or four over 30 foot go in and made pretty much everything inside 10 foot, which is nice.

"I hit a lot of good shots out there and rode my luck when I hit a bad one. (My coach and I) have done some good work and everything kind of clicked."

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