Tokyo 2020

Sports Run Deep for Ryan Fox and Family

Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers - Day Three
KAEC, SAUDI ARABIA - FEBRUARY 06: Ryan Fox of New Zealand on the 6th tee during the third round of the Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club on February 06, 2021 in King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

New Zealand’s Ryan Fox becomes a two-time Olympian when he tees off in the opening round of the Olympic Men’s Golf Competition at Kasumigaseki Country Club in Tokyo, Japan on Thursday.

“To say I’m a double Olympian kind of boggles my mind a little bit,” said Fox, after his practice round Wednesday. “Even when golf was announced as an Olympic sport, I didn’t think it would be an option for me until about 2015 when I was close to qualifying. Just to qualify for Rio was amazing. Now to do it again is a pretty cool feeling to be honest.”

Fox is a proud Kiwi with great lineage in New Zealand sport. He’s the son of Grant Fox, a member of the legendary All Blacks rugby team that won the World Cup in 1987. His uncle, Merv Wallace, played cricket for New Zealand.

“Getting to represent New Zealand, in my family, was the highest honor,” said Fox. “You don’t get a higher honor than to do it in the Olympics. It’s pretty cool that golf is now in and I’ve been able to do it twice and hopefully I will get another couple of chances going forward.”

Fox has taken the opportunity to immerse himself in the Olympic experience in Tokyo, staying in the Olympic Village with athletes from all sports. He also stayed in the Village in Rio.

“The Village is great, but talking to a few of the guys this week, if you’re out of the Village it feels like a bit of a normal tournament,” said Fox. “Staying in the Village you get the whole experience of being part of a team and part of the whole Olympics. I absolutely love it in there. It’s a long way to the golf course each day but it’s a small price to pay.”

Fox likes the course and thinks the scoring will be good with many holes offering good birdie opportunities, but he expects it to be relatively quiet without spectators allowed on site.

“I don’t think I’ve played a golf course in better condition than this,” he said. “It’s a pretty strong test and it kind of sneaks up on you. It’s a shame we won’t have crowds here with Hideki (Matsuyama) winning the Masters earlier in the year. With golf being very popular in Japan, I think we would have been one of the better-supported events. Sport is a lot better with fans. It’s a shame for the Olympics but the TV coverage is still great.”

Growing up in New Zealand, playing sport, and watching sport on television was a way of life for Fox family.

“For the Olympics, swimming was always a favorite for us to watch,” said Fox. “We’ve always been really good at rowing and all the water sports – sailing and windsurfing.”

Golf and rugby are major sports in many countries around the globe, but to other nations both games remain a mystery. Fox sees plenty of upside to having both sports now included in the Olympics.

“It brings golf to a wider audience having golf in the Olympics,” he said. “You know Olympic medalists, everyone knows them, whereas there are probably not many people that equate Sir Bob Charles winning a major championship. In golf circles, everyone knows what Sir Bob won.”

Fox thinks winning an Olympic medal puts you on the next level.

“I think Justin Rose is going to look back and say he’s a major champion, but he’s an Olympic gold medalist in golf,” said Fox. “In forty years, there’s only going to be 10 of those. The three guys that won medals last time aren’t here (in Tokyo). If you win a major, generally you have an exemption for a decent amount of time. Tough luck here if you don’t.”

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