File Photo: Ryan Fox – Henry Peters

New Zealand’s Ryan Fox continued his climb from a mid-season slump by taking a share of the lead at the Amundi Open de France at Le Golf National in Paris.

Fox’s opening round of 65 has him tied with South African George Coetzee on a golf course where he has performed well previously. In 2017 Fox finished 6th at this same event and venue against a stronger field than the one he faces this week.

After his breakthrough European Tour win in Perth earlier this year, Fox missed seven consecutive cuts before a solid week at the Open Championship began to turn things around and a top twenty finish in Italy last week was further proof that his game was getting back to the high level he produced in patches in 2017 and 2018.

“I’m pretty happy,” said Fox. “This is a golf course that can kick you pretty quickly. I played really solid today. Holed some putts. Played those tough holes, that closing stretch, really well. I could have potentially grabbed a couple more on those last four, which is always a bonus, but very happy to walk away with a 65 around here.

You’ve got to drive it really well. For the most part I did a really good job of keeping it in play. A couple holes I hit poor tee shots and I managed to scramble and make pars from there, which is nice. But yeah, you just keep yourself out of trouble.”

Although the prizemoney this week is significantly less than that of previous years at the French Open, it is nonetheless and important week for Fox as he looks to force his way into the top 50 in the Race to Dubai rankings (he is currently 55th) and earn a start at the season ending DP World Tour Championship Dubai in late November.

There are still several events in which he can do so but if he can take advantage of this good start then things become easier for the 32-year old from Auckland.

Fox and Coetzee lead by one over American, Kurt Kitayama, Frenchman, Benjamin Herbert, and Scot, Richie Ramsay.

Victorian, Deyen Lawson, struggling for survival on the European Tour, is the next best of the Australasians after his opening round of 68 left him in a share of 13th place, Jason Scrivener is 25th, Lucas Herbert 50th, Nick Cullen 65th with Jake McLeod and Sam Brazel further back.