On a day when it looked as though a European would be heading to the Ryder Cup next week with some extra wind in their sails it was New Zealander Ryan Fox who weathered the Wentworth storm and claimed the BMW PGA Championship.
Fox birdied the last to finish on 18 under par, one better than Englishmen Tyrrell Hatton and Aaron Rai, and clinch his fourth title on the DP World Tour. Hatton’s Ryder Cup team-mates Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland and Tommy Fleetwood filled the next three outright places, with Rory McIlroy in a share of seventh place.
Rising star Ludvig Aberg had looked set to further justify his selection as one of European captain Luke Donald’s wild cards but saw his overnight lead slip away in a final round of 76 that left him in a tie for 10th.
Instead it was Fox’s day – eventually – after play was suspended for 80 minutes in the afternoon because of the threat of lightning. The 36-year-old Kiwi didn’t hit the front until late in the day and found something extra just when he needed it after Hatton birdied the last to set the clubhouse lead at 17 under.
It represented a stunning turnaround given Fox started the day three shots adrift of Aberg and carded a triple bogey at the third hole. Two birdies before the turn got him back into contention and six more on the back nine propelled last year’s Race To Dubai runner-up to a third win in the last two seasons.
“I certainly didn’t think I would be talking to you after the third hole today,” he told Sky Sports. “To have a back nine like that, especially after how I started the day, is amazing. I played great, pretty much didn’t miss a shot from the third hole onwards and saw a couple of putts go in. It was pretty cool feeling on the last to know I had one to win and actually make it.”
While Aberg’s challenge for back-to-back titles in only his 10th professional event faded with two double-bogeys on the front nine, while Hatton came from five shots adrift to lead by four at one stage.
A dropped shot at 15 looked to have finished the 2020 winner’s challenge, only for his closing birdie to momentarily draw him level with Fox and raise hopes of a play-off. Rai, too, almost forced extra holes when his 40ft eagle attempt lipped out.
“It’s definitely mixed emotions,” said Hatton. “It was nice to have a great week, and now to get ready for the Ryder Cup, so I take some confidence from that. This tournament means a lot to me. It would have been nice to win, especially my dad being here, but seeing Foxy out there, a pretty special 13 holes. It is what it is. Tried my best and it was a great week.”