Daniel Fox has edged into the lead of the SP PNG Open with a flawless round of 7-under 65 at Royal Port Moresby Golf Club.
No stranger to leading an ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia tournament, the WA Open and QLD PGA Championship winner credited changing up his game plan in the first round.
“I was very clinical today,” said Fox, who sits two shots clear of the field.
“I drove it pretty well up until the last few holes but I managed to keep it together with some good short game.
“I putted much better than last week in Lae where I sort of messed around with a few things just to get the ball rolling and it’s carried over to this week.
“I gave myself plenty of really good looks, made the odd putt here and there and finished with three birdies in a row.”
Firing seven birdies, including three straight on his final three holes through 7, 8 and 9, Fox believes maintaining his composure was what lead to the impressive score.
“If you don’t make bogeys there’s not much you have to worry about,” Fox continued.
“I’m happy to shoot three or four under and not make bogeys rather than shoot 7 or 8 but have three or four mistakes in there.
“It goes more into line with how I’m thinking on the course. If I’m not putting myself under too much pressure then I shouldn’t have too many bogeys but if I’m forcing it then they’ll pop up on the card.
“I’ll be stoked if I can do it again for any one of the next three rounds. I was mindful of it as I was coming in so I was happy to have a clean sheet.”
Holding a comfortable lead over a logjam of players on 5-under the card, Fox believes the level of competition will continue to increase across the weekend if players take advantage of parts of the course.
“I think if you ask everyone in the field, they probably could have had three or four shots better if they got a putt to drop,” added Fox. “I think I just managed to get a couple more.”
“If you have a good round out here you can shoot 4-under, but if you have a few extra putts drop, that’s when you shoot your 6 and 7-unders.
“The par-5s are gettable and there’s so many short par-4s that if you can get a good line on the fairways you can control your wedge shots. If you can do that then you’re going to be within 10 feet.”
Jordan Mullaney and Douglas Klein have added their names to the list of six players including Brady Watt, Shae Wools-Cobb, James Grierson and Will Heffernan, now sitting on 5-under 67. A further 10 players sit tied for eighth place at 4-under the card.
Having played at the Royal Port Moresby Golf Club course for six years, Fox was impressed with its presentation for the 2019 SP PNG Open, a sentiment that has been echoed by much of the field following the first round.
“It’s a little bit different out here to last week,” said Fox. “The grass is a bit more couch in these fairways and there’s a bit of elevation change as well.”
“I’ve played here six times and it’s definitely changed even from Tuesday. The ball is running a lot more and it’s going a heap further.
“I reckon it’s bouncing at least 20 to 30 meters further off its first bounce than what it was even a couple of days ago.
“I made a little adjustment to that but you have to work out how the course is playing because as you get out there it does sort of change around a bit, I was just able to hit the ball in position to not really put myself in harm’s way.
“I laid up a few times where I thought, ‘should I have a go?’ But I decided I’d just keep it simple and it ended up being a good day.”
Fox will join Damien Jordan and Gideon Tikili in the second round of the SP PNG Open at Royal Port Moresby Golf Club where he will tee of the first tee on Friday morning at 7:30am.
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