2023 PGA Championship - Round One
Credit: Getty Images

New Zealand native Ryan Fox hasn’t touched a golf club much since he last teed it up at the Masters, but he found himself near the top of the leaderboard Thursday firing a 2-under par 68 during the 2023 PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club.

This performance is the latest stop on a roller coaster spring where Fox caught pneumonia and later witnessed the birth of his second child.

Fox, 36, had to withdraw from the RBC Heritage due to an illness. When he flew home to New Zealand, he found out it was pneumonia that had been ailing him.

Then earlier this month, Fox experienced the joys of fatherhood when his second child, Margot, was born. Fox took to social media to share the good news, including a photograph of him holding the newborn infant with his first child beside him at the hospital.

The circumstances certainly have not been ideal for Fox’s preparation heading into his fifth PGA Championship.

“One of the days I was supposed to go to practice, Auckland flooded for the third time this year,” Fox said in his post-round press conference. “So I think I drive around Auckland 27 kilometers 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.”

Fox, who admits he has not fully recovered from a physical standpoint from the pneumonia, arrived at Oak Hill early Thursday with plans to see a physiologist and eat breakfast. Unfortunately, the club’s facilities were closed due to the frost delay – which was unbeknownst to Fox.

“To be honest I still don't feel like I've got [my strength] back completely,” he said. “My speed is down a little bit on what it normally is.”

Before the RBC Heritage, Fox was hoping to capitalize on the momentum of finishing T26 at the Masters the week prior – which was his best standing in a major since turning professional in 2011.

2023 PGA Championship - Round One
Ryan Fox of New Zealand plays a shot on the 18th hole during the first round of the 2023 PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club on May 18, 2023 in Rochester, New York. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Credit: Getty Images

In spite of everything, Fox pulled through to shoot a 68 in the first round which at the time placed him at a tie for fifth place.

“It's probably pretty surprising as I didn't have a lot of prep coming in and had four weeks off in the lead-up to this with a few things going on, but, yeah, I played -- for the most part played pretty solid,” Fox said.

Fox will head back on the course tomorrow afternoon as he continues to try and top his previous best PGA Championship finish of T27 in 2018 at Bellerive.

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