Ryan Fox secured his second DP World Tour title in wire-to-wire fashion at the Ras Al Khaimah Classic, after the New Zealander recovered from a nervy start to eventually cruise home for a five-shot victory at Al Hamra Golf Club.
The 35-year-old was slow out of the traps on the final day in the northernmost of the United Arab Emirates, while others came flying out of the blocks, but the six-stroke lead he had built in the opening three rounds helped ease the pressure before he finally found his feet.
A birdie at the eighth meant he at least reached the turn in level par and, having been only two clear of a busy chasing pack after 11 holes, he drained a huge putt at the 12th for the first of back-to-back birdies which really hammered home his advantage and put the Kiwi virtually out of reach.
Fox, the son of New Zealand rugby legend Grant, finished in style with a birdie at the last to rubber-stamp victory with a three under 69 and a 22 under total, moving him to eighth in the DP World Tour Rankings.
Englishman Ross Fisher came through the pack with a pair of 66s at the weekend to clinch second place outright on 17 under while Pablo Larrazábal – who at one point looked most likely to capitalise on Fox’s shaky start – shared third place with Germany’s Hurly Long and Zander Lombard of South Africa
Ryan Fox: “Probably relief is the main emotion, obviously it was a bit of a struggle today. Sleeping on a six shot lead, I didn’t sleep very well last night. Obviously a couple of the guys came at me early. I was a bit nervous, I had that awful feeling in the pit of my stomach all day but I’m very happy with how I played, a couple of great shots coming down the stretch and it was certainly nice walking down the last with putter in hand with so many putts to win.
“I learned that I’m pretty resilient, obviously there was some bad stuff in there but I just kept plugging away. There were a couple of big momentum putts on the back nine, the one on ten for par and then the one on 12 just kick-started everything and I felt like I played pretty solid the rest of the way in.
“It was going south pretty quickly there and I’m pretty happy I could turn it around and show plenty of mental fortitude there.
“Probably the one on 12 was the turning point. I haven’t been a massive fan of that tee shot for two weeks and I got away with one there. Obviously I wasn’t aiming there, I pushed it a little bit, but at least I hit it solid.
“I thought I hit a decent second shot, the breeze just didn’t really move it left and thankfully the hole got in the way with my putt, to be honest I probably would have had three or four feet coming back but it looked good all the way and that just changed everything, it gave me more of a buffer.
“Obviously 13 and 14 you feel like you have a couple of birdie holes coming home and I managed to birdie 13 which made it a little easier coming down the stretch, but obviously not that easy.
“I’ve got a nervous energy, my old man is the same – he paces around on the phone – and I think I probably walked 25km today with how much I paced around the greens. That’s just me and I was definitely thinking about the family coming down the last couple of holes.
“It’s pretty big for them, they’ve got to come over to Europe every year and that’s a little bit harder with a little one now, and this win makes that a little bit easier for them to do that.
“I’m a bit disappointed I missed (his 14-month-old daugher) Isabel walking for the first time and I’ve got ten days in a quarantine hotel when I get home to think about that as well, but I’m very much looking forward to seeing them when I get out of the hotel in late February. The first couple of days in there I might have a pretty sore head but after that I think it’ll feel pretty good with the trophy.”