It’s fair to say that Ryan Fox is playing the best golf of his decade-long professional career.
In fact, thanks to his seventh top-10 finish in his last 10 starts, it’s no exaggeration to say that the 35-year-old is one of the best players on any tour.
Having pocketed €630,600 (NZ$1.06m) for his runner-up finish at the Irish Open on Monday, the only thing missing is additional career wins (two) on the DP World Tour, formerly the European Tour.
However, having joined a small group of New Zealanders to make it into the top 50 male players in the world, Fox still has a lot to smile about.
Here’s a look at some of the Flying Fox numbers.
* Ryan Fox soars to career-best world ranking, beaten to Irish Open title by historic Pole
* DP World Tour boss ridicules Saudi rebels who threatened legal action
* Ryan Fox falls down the table at the Irish Open after a lackluster second round
* Surprised Ryan Fox tops the Irish Open leaderboard with an impressive eight-under 64
Only three other Kiwis had spent time inside the men’s top 50 before Fox rose to 46th in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) on Monday.
Fox improved 10 places thanks to his big payday at Mount Juliet, where he finished three shots behind Polish winner Adrian Meronk.
Since the OWGR system was launched in 1986, Michael Campbell (12), Frank Nobilo (21) and Danny Lee (34) are the only New Zealanders to crack the top 50.
Fox entered 2022 ranked 213, while its highest year-end ranking was 91 (2018).
The more than €1.6 million earned by Fox in prize money this year is equivalent to a whopping NZ$2,761,368.56.
That blows the $650,000 he pocketed in 2021 out of the water, despite playing seven fewer tournaments this year.
A decade after turning pro, Fox’s DP World Tour career earnings have soared to €5.9 million (NZ$9.9 million).
US Open Champion (2005) Campbell earned $23.8 million during his career.
The continuation of Fox’s hot streak in Europe makes him seven top 10 finishes in his last 10 starts.
His scorching streak dates back to winning the Ras al Khaimah Classic in February and includes another second-place finish (Dutch Open).
Aucklander also finished second at the Soudal Open and third at the BMW International.
Fox’s notable mistakes have been on the biggest stage, missing the cut at the US Open and finishing 54th in the US PGA Championship.
Fox has moved up a few spots to fourth in the DP World Tour rankings.
With 2,138 points in the bag, he is only behind American Will Zalatoris (2,572), Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy (2,366) and England’s Matt Fitzpatrick (2,246).
A winner will be crowned after 45 tournaments, played in 24 countries, and the top five players will win a share of a $5 million bonus.
Fox finished 82nd last year, when American Collin Morikawa was crowned champion.
Fox went on the hunt for birdies at the Irish Open, pocketing 22 in four rounds, eight of them during his flawless opening round of eight-under-par 64.
That’s one more than winner Meronk, but the Pole had five bogeys to Fox’s seven and two eagles to Fox’s one.
Fox’s 69.63 scoring average is good enough for second place on the tour, behind only South African Shaun Norris.
However, Norris (69.63) has played 24 rounds to Fox’s 48.
The average of the route is 71.44.
Fox has long been recognized as a boomer off the tee, one who loves nothing more than asking for his driver and flying.
Fox is averaging 314.75 yards (287 meters) on tour this year, more than the 305 yards he averaged during the Irish Open, and considerably more than the tour average of 299.82.
He’s ninth-best on the tour, though his handling accuracy (43.49% and 153rd place) leaves a lot to be desired.