From illness to birth of daughter – Ryan Fox’s remarkable US PGA build-up

New Zealand’s Ryan Fox admitted his impressive opening round came as a surprise after detailing his extraordinary build up to the 105th US PGA Championship.

Fox fell ill during his Masters debut last month and withdrew after just nine holes of the following week’s RBC Heritage before flying home to Auckland.

The 36-year-old was diagnosed with pneumonia and took two weeks to recover, just in time to welcome the arrival of his second daughter Margot.

After enjoying a few days at home with his family, Fox then flew back to the United States and only arrived in Rochester on Monday morning, before also having to deal with an overnight frost which delayed Thursday’s early starters.

“It’s been an interesting last month,” Fox, who won twice on the DP World Tour last season, said with considerable understatement after carding a two-under-par 68.

“At the Masters I was pretty sick on the weekend. Tried to play Hilton Head, withdrew from there after nine holes, just feeling awful. Got home and got told I caught pneumonia, which pretty much explained why I felt so bad.

“Basically as soon as I got over that, our daughter was born, which was just over two weeks ago now. So I had a few sleepless nights and not a lot of practice.

“One of the days I was supposed to go to practice, Auckland flooded for the third time this year. So I think I drove around Auckland (covering) 27 kilometres in four hours in chaos.

“It wasn’t quite the ideal preparation for a major, but I was kind of hoping the fact I needed a break after a busy start to the year and being mentally fresh would have been important this week.

“It’s pretty surprising to have four weeks off and shoot 68, especially when the course is pretty brutal if you are out of position.”

As one of the early starters Fox left his hotel at 5.30am, meaning he only received notification of the delayed start when he arrived at the course.

“I was due to see my physio at 6am and I was going to have breakfast beforehand. Just as I got to the golf course, I got the text,” Fox added.

“I certainly would have liked another hour and a bit in bed, but I can go and have a pretty nice nap this afternoon, I think.”