New Zealand’s Ryan Fox paid tribute to late cricket great Shane Warne as he won golf’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship by one stroke on the Old Course at St Andrews yesterday.
The tournament, played over three Scottish venues, with Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, the other courses, features a pro-am team element and last year Fox finished second with former Australia leg-spinner Warne, who died in March aged 52.
“To be honest the only person I can really think of at the moment is Warne,” said Fox. “He meant a lot to me and this event. He was a great mate. It’s a terrible shame he’s not here,” added the 35-year-old son of former New Zealand rugby star Grant Fox.
One consolation for Fox was that both his mother and father, the fly-half in the All Blacks team that won the inaugural 1987 World Cup, were at St Andrews to witness his success.
Fox’s third European Tour victory saw him finish one stroke ahead of England’s Callum Shinkwin and Sweden’s Alex Noren.
The eventual champion started the fourth and final round four shots behind overnight leader Richard Mansell.
But the Englishman, bidding for a maiden European Tour victory, could only manage 76, four over par, to tie for seventh place.
Fox, by contrast, carded a round of 68, including seven birdies, to win on 15 under par.
There were three bogeys as well, including one at the infamous 17th, the ‘Road Hole’, but significantly limited the damage to just one dropped shot. Fox then made par on the last to win his second title of the season following a win at Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates in February.
Rory McIlroy, the world number two, finished joint fourth in his first appearance on the Old Course since being pipped to the British Open title by Australia’s Cameron Smith in July.
McIlroy, a four-time major winner, started this week with a four-under 68 at Carnoustie only to make a three-over 75 in atrocious conditions in the second round at Kingsbarns.
His 66 on Saturday left him eight shots adrift of Mansell. Although the 33-year-old closed with a fine 66, featuring seven birdies and a lone bogey, to take the clubhouse, lead his total of 13 under was not quite good enough.
“Played well again today,” said McIlroy, who reckoned he needed to shoot eight under par to put those ahead of him under real pressure.
“It was a bit of a struggle on the way in, came up two or three short of my target in the end.”
Shinkwin and American art dealer Alex Acquavella won the team event by three shots on 37 under par.