After four days of leaderboard dominance from members of Luke Donald’s Ryder Cup team, Ryan Fox entered the hen house and made a fine mess of plans for a victorious European send off at the BMW PGA Championship.
It was a deeply impressive showing from the New Zealander, who happens to be the son of the All Blacks great Grant Fox. With the Rugby World Cup going on in France, maybe his fourth DP World Tour title will serve as the first half of a double.
And yet it also served as a deflation of sorts for those with parochial interests, given this flagship event of the European circuit was firmly in the grasp of Tyrrell Hatton deep into its final day.
Having snatched the lead early in the fourth round from his rookie team-mate Ludvig Aberg, the 2020 champion briefly held a four-stroke lead on the field with seven to play after a stunning blitz that saw him birdie seven of his first 11 holes.
Such a scorching run had carried him to 17 under par, but he drove out of bounds on his way to a bogey at 15 and it would prove decisive.
Ryan Fox won the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth on Sunday after clinching victory on the final day
Fox birdied seven of his first 11 holes at Wentworth on the final day of the PGA flagship event
He got the stroke back at the par-five 18th and screamed ‘come on’ before signing for a 66 and 17 under, which pulled him level with Fox, but his hopes of a play-off were over within minutes.
Fox, playing in the group behind, had endured a triple-bogey horror show on the third, but responded with seven birdies between the seventh and 15th.
Needing another at 18 for the win, he found the rough off the tee, but got up and down from 100 yards to grab the title by a single shot from Hatton and Aaron Rai.
‘I certainly didn’t think I would be talking to you after the third hole today,’ said Fox, who banked £1.2million for the win.
‘We have been through a pretty tough year as a family. I lost my father-in-law in June after a really, really short battle with cancer and that kind of rocked the family. To come over here and obviously have a good week in Ireland last week (where he had his first top-10 of the season), and this, I don’t think I could have wished for better.’
Hatton said: ‘It’s definitely mixed emotions. It was nice to have a great week before the Ryder Cup. I take some confidence from this into that week.’
Tyrrell Hatton (pictured) of England slipped up on the final day as Fox stormed to the title
It was a good finale, all told, and an encouraging week for the European team, especially Aberg who led after 54 holes before stumbling in the final round with a 76.
Finding sand on three of his first four holes, and twice duffing chips on his front nine, it served as a reminder that success is rarely a straight line, even for a phenomenon.
His 12 under total put him 10th, one behind Rory McIlroy who only made the cut by a stroke but went 67-65 over the weekend.
McIlroy now flies to Mykonos for a stag party before the business of challenging for the Cup in Rome. Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland and Tommy Fleetwood were each in the top six.