Ryan Fox – file photo PGA of America Montana Pritchard

Three ahead and with just two holes to play at the Dutch Open, at New Zealand’s Ryan Fox might have been forgiven for feeling that a third European Tour title and his second of 2022 was just twenty minutes away.

That was, until, he almost inexplicably found a way to double bogey his final hole to be just one ahead as he walked to the scorers hut. He still had that one shot cushion but it would not be for long as Victor Perez, playing twenty minutes behind him, birdied from 25 feet at the 17th and although Perez missed a very makeable birdie putt at the 72nd hole, he and Fox were headed for extra time.

Fox again had the inside running in all four of the playoff holes but Perez putted beautifully, both players producing birdies at the par 5 18th on two of the three occasions before the playoff switched to the 17th.

There, with Fox again inside Perez at the par 3, the 29-year-old Frenchman holed from across two levels and when Fox was unable to match his brilliance, Perez had won his second European Tour title.

It was a gut wrenching loss for Fox who, after beginning the final round one behind and in a share of 3rd place, appeared to take control of the tournament with a holed chip shot at the 10th and then an outrageous eagle putt from 80 feet or so at the 11th.

He extended his lead with a birdie at the 14th but four holes later he would open the door for Perez when he drove it into a penalty area at the last, missed the green with his 3rd and found an awkward lie before pitching it into a bunker and then failing to get up and down.

Fox, though, earns one of the three Open Championship berths available from this event and with his 3rd place at the recent Soudal Open and with this finish he is all but assured of a start at the US open courtesy of a cumulative points series over four events finishing at next week’s Porsche European Open.

Reason to smile despite the playoff loss

“It was one of my big goals to tick off this year,” said Fox referring to his ticket to St Andrews where in many ways his elevation in the game began. “I qualified there in 2015 and absolutely loved it, and to get back for The 150th this year is a dream come true and I’m looking forward to it.

“I’ve played St Andrews a lot since that first year and it’s one of my favourite places in the world. I think the atmosphere this year for it being The 150th is just going to be immense.

“Ben Campbell is in, another Kiwi, so I’m looking forward to joining him in the field and hopefully I can keep enjoying playing links golf.”

Fox is in the form of his life having won earlier in the year in the UAE, finished 3rd at the Soudal Open, made the cut after earning a late call-up to the PGA Championship and now this runner-up finish.

Fox will move close to the top 60 in the world, his highest ever ranking and is now in 6th place in the DP World Tour rankings, his earnings today adding another €192,000 to those of this season.

Australian Scott Hend was also well placed through 54 holes for a big finish but fell away with a final round of 76 to finish in a share of 14th but after twelve consecutive missed cuts for the Queenslander, the week represented quite a turnaround.