Following a standout rookie year on the European Tour, Ryan Fox gets his 2018 campaign underway in his home country at the REBEL Sport Masters from 11-14 January.

The familiar surrounds of the Wainui Golf Club is the perfect launching point for what will be Fox’s second full season on the European Tour, he joins fellow Auckland golfer Michael Hendry as the marquee players in the field.

“It’s good, I don’t get the chance to play too much at home and on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia especially so it’s definitely a nice way to start the year,” said Fox who is a two-time winner on the Tour.

“I played a lot of golf on this Tour both as an amateur and as a Professional and it feels like home playing in these tournaments. It’s nice to come back out and support the Tour especially when it’s in New Zealand. 

“I’ve played Wainui a few times; it’s a good test of golf. From the weather we’ve had it’s going to be fairly dry and play pretty firm and fast so it’ll be a pretty tricky test I think, especially if the wind gets up.”

While he and Hendry, two of the top-3 ranked Kiwi golfers in the Official World Golf Rankings at 123rd and 125th respectively, will no doubt attract most of the fanfare this week, Fox said there is plenty of up and coming local talent to keep an eye on.

New Zealanders Ryan Chisnall, Nick Voke and James Anstiss all make their Professional debut after gaining status on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia through Qualifying School in December.

“Those guys have been playing really well for New Zealand over the last few years as amateurs and the transition to being a Professional can be really hard so it’s good to see them get through Q-School and get a category to start with,” added Fox.

“I’m sure they’ll all be excited this week, they deserve to be out here because they’re good enough players so I’m sure New Zealanders will be following their careers and would like to see them do well.”

The REBEL Sport Masters coincides with the final stage of the Asian Tour Q-School in Thailand and with a number of ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia Professionals competing there, a great opportunity presents itself for a young Pro to get the 2018 season off to flying start.

As well as the lion’s share of the AUD$100,000 in prize money, the winner this week also receives full status on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia for the remainder of 2018 and the 2019 season.

“It’s a really good chance to win for those guys, Mike (Hendry) and I will obviously be trying to win as well but I’m sure those guys will be looking to start their careers off really well and if they can get an exemption early, it takes a lot of the pressure off,” added Fox.

On his own form, Fox said he’s just about overcome a niggling shoulder complaint, the result of playing 30 Professional tournaments across the globe in 2017, by far his busiest season as a Professional.

“I played a lot more golf last year than any previous season and throwing in the travel on top of that it’s not suprising there’s a few niggles,” added Fox.

“It’s just a little carryover from last year and it’s started to sort itself out over the break, I’ve been getting some treatment and it’s feeling good this week.

“It’d be nice to start the year without it but I’ve still got a little bit of time to get it all sorted before Europe kicks off properly in April again.”

The REBEL Sport Masters will be played at Wainui Golf Club from 11-14 January, round one begins Thursday at 7:30am local time with Ryan Fox teeing off at 8:00am.

Entry to the tournament is free to the public.