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Fox Agonisingly Close, Loses Playoff In Ireland

Ryan Fox came agonisingly close to a maiden European Tour title in Ireland (Photo: Getty Images)
But for ‘an inch either way’ Ryan Fox might be a European Tour champion. Instead, the long hitting Kiwi will leave Ballyliffin in Ireland with mixed feelings after losing a play-off to Scotland’s Russell Knox.

Fox’s eight-foot putt for birdie at the 72ndhole grazed the high side of the cup and forced extra time then another birdie attempt on the first play-off hole also came within a whisker of extending the play-off.

But it was Knox, who holed from 40 feet in both regulation and on the first extra hole, who hoisted the trophy though Fox claimed the consolation prize of earning a berth in the upcoming Open at Carnoustie.

Yet to win on the European Tour the 31-year-old said in the aftermath of his closest call yet that he was pleased with everything but the eventual result.

“I'm happy,” he said after the round. “I hit the shots I wanted to down the stretch. Felt comfortable out there, and you know, it was close.

“I hit two great putts on 18, one grazed the edge and one came back at me. Had one putt been an inch either way I'd still be out there now or even with the trophy in my hand but well done to Russ, he played some great golf today.”

Despite the disappointment Fox said his focus was now firmly on the year’s third major.

“It's a bloody nice consolation to get into The Open Championship,” he said.

“I’m excited and slightly nervous because Carnoustie is a bit of a beast. But I played the U.S. Open and hopefully nothing can be as hard as that.
“I'm looking forward to the challenge. I've played well around Carnoustie when I've played there before. Hopefully a few days to figure it out and see if I can play well at The Open.
“It’s always nice to play links golf in the run up to an Open and I love the challenge of it. The rough might be a bit more difficult than here so we’ll see what the conditions are like when we get to Carnoustie.”

Fox played some brilliant golf over the 72 holes at Ballyliffin after taking the outright lead in day one and being in the mix all week.

His closing 68 was one of the best rounds of the day, only five players recording lower scores including the eventual winner, Knox.

After opening with a bogey Sunday Fox hit back with a brilliant eagle at the fourth to turn 1-under then, as he had done all week, made a back nine charge with four birdies against a lone dropped shot.

Knox saved his best till last with a final round 66 that also included an eagle at the fourth, his long birdie efforts on the 18thgreen proving the difference.

Spain’s Jorge Campillo was third outright with defending champion Jon Rahm sharing fifth alongside 54-hole leader Erik van Rooyen.

Wade Ormsby and Adam Bland shared top Australian honours, both ending the week 1-over and T49 hwile Andrew Dodt was four shots further back and T72.

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