Fun will be the key for Team New Zealand at the ISPS HANDA Melbourne World Cup of Golf as Ryan Fox and Danny Lee reunite to represent their country.
The Kiwi duo first combined at the 2016 staging of the tournament and will team up again at The Metropolitan Golf Club.
Ranked 86th in the world, Fox was the highest placed New Zealander on the Official World Golf Ranking and selected Lee to partner him - a role reversal on 2016.
“The Sandbelt is world renowned and Metropolitan is a fantastic golf course. The opportunity to represent New Zealand again and play in the World Cup is something very special that I am looking forward to,” Fox said.
“I grew up in a very sporting family and representing New Zealand was the highest honour. Golf doesn’t give you many opportunities to do it, especially at a professional level, so the Olympic Games and the World Cup are really the only two events you get to play for your country.
Fox will be joined by 28-year-old Lee, who is coming off a solo-second result at the Mayakoba Golf Classic after finishing one stroke back of fellow World Cup of Golf competitor Matt Kuchar. Lee, a PGA TOUR winner and member of the 2015 Presidents Cup International Team will bring a bevy of confidence and experience to Team New Zealand.
“It was an easy decision to pick Danny; he is a world-class player competing on the PGA TOUR,” Fox said. “I also wanted to return the favour; he picked me a couple of years ago so it was nice to be in a position to reciprocate. He is a good mate of mine and I am looking forward to catching up with him.”
In 2016 Fox had just completed his first full season on the European Challenge Tour. This year he returns to the ISPS HANDA Melbourne World Cup of Golf a much more experienced player having played two full seasons on the European Tour where he is currently 18th on the Race to Dubai.
“It has been a nice progression the last few years; from the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia to OneAsia then the Challenge Tour and now the European Tour. Everything has been getting a little bit better each year, a bit more consistent and that is what you want to see year in and year out, that there have been improvements,” added Fox.
“The good thing is getting used to competing with the top guys in the world every week in Europe. You get a little taste of that playing on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia, especially in the Aussie PGA and Aussie Open, a few of the top guys come down. But you go over to Europe and you have those guys playing most weeks, throw in a couple of majors and World Golf Championships events and you build that experience.
“I have been lucky enough to do that the last couple of years. I now feel more comfortable at that level than I was two years ago playing the World Cup so hopefully that puts me in good stead this year.”
The last time Metropolitan Golf Course hosted a professional golf tournament was the 2012 Australian Masters. Fox and American Kyle Stanley are the only current World Cup players that competed that year.
While Fox has good memories of the course conditions, he didn’t have much success on the layout.
“My lasting memory of the course is how good the conditions were,” Fox said. “I missed the cut there unfortunately but I actually played with the eventual winner Nick Cullen in the first couple of rounds. So I have at least half an idea on how to play it after watching him.”
Armed with that knowledge, Fox believes that he and Lee will have a better idea on how to combine as a team their second time around.
“We can learn a little bit from last time. In the four-ball, I think I played the course a little bit too aggressively. Sandbelt courses are ones you can’t take on all the time. Often having two balls in play is more important than one guy taking an aggressive line or the wrong club off the tee and potentially having one ball out of play and putting the other guy under added pressure.
“Having played foursomes together we know each other’s games and know what tee shots work for each other. So hopefully we can develop a pretty good strategy to play Metro, correctly select what holes we tee off on and have a little bit of fun, you need that in foursomes, it’s a tough format to play.
Fox, who is renowned for his power and length off the tee, has noticed plenty of differences and consistencies between his game and Lee’s. “I think we play a very different style of game. Danny is very, very consistent and very straight off the tee. I think we are similar in the way we both like to play aggressively and take on flags; I think that is a good thing.
“But in the way we do it, Danny hits it point-to-point where as I probably hit it a little more crooked but a little farther sometimes. Hopefully we complement each other well as a team and have a bit of fun.
“Danny has a great sense of humour and we get along well on and off the golf course and I think that is more important than how our golf games gel together.”
The ISPS HANDA Melbourne World Cup of Golf will be played at The Metropolitan Golf Club from 22-25 November.
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