Fox surprised top spot at Irish Open with 8-under 64 | Sports

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THOMASTOWN, Ireland (AP) — New Zealander Ryan Fox was surprised Thursday to find himself top of the Irish Open after the first round, despite his impressive form this season.

Fox birdied eight times, including seven on his last 11 holes, in an 8-under-64 clear round at Mount Juliet. He has a one-shot lead over Frédéric Lacroix, Jorge Campillo, Fabrizio Zanotti and Marcel Schneider.

Fox, who lost the 2018 Irish Open qualifier to Scotland’s Russell Knox, won the Ras Al Khaimah Classic in February, finished runners-up at the Soudal Open and the Dutch Open and finished third in the BMW International on Sunday.

“I’m more surprised, to be honest, than anything,” said Fox, 56th. “I’ve fought him on the range for the past few days and a 64 certainly didn’t seem likely at the start of the round.

“I had a few birdies but gave up and hit a big wedge on my eighth hole (the 17th) and made a few putts as well. So just one of those days that shows how important patience is in a game of golf.”

Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington shot a 2-under 70 just days after winning the US Senior Open, while 2019 Open champion Shane Lowry had to settle for a 71.

“It’s a shame with the finish,” said Harrington, who missed two of his last three holes. “It’s just part of the game, isn’t it?”

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