What a difference a day makes. Twenty-four hours after racking up a cricket score during practice on the New Course at Gloria Golf Club in Turkey, Scotland’s Graham Fox wrought spectacular revenge on his tormentor in the PGAs of Europe International Team Championship.
As if engaged in a private battle with the rumbling thunder and distant flashes of lightning that threatened to curtail the first of the tournament’s four rounds, Fox responded with a spectacular display of golfing fireworks.
A flawless round that included nine birdies and an eagle at the 455 metres par five 18th, saw him post an 11-under-par career best score of 61.
Unsurprisingly it was the round of the day by some distance and it ensured the Scottish trio, which is completed by Graeme Brown and Gareth Wright, opened up a three-stroke lead in pursuit of the €6,000 first prize.
Wright weighed in with a round of one-under and, with the best two of three scores counting, the Scots started their bid to win the event for an eighth time with a round of 12-under.
Wright was a member of the team that won in 2012 while Fox and his two compatriots had to settle for a place in the runner’s up enclosure last year.
In doing so, Fox tied with Holland’s Ralph Miller as the tournament’s leading individual, both completing the four rounds in two-under.
That return was not so much upstaged as eclipsed by Fox’s opening salvo in the Turkish gloom; likewise the difference between his displays in practice and when it really mattered.
“I couldn’t break 80 yesterday,” admitted Fox, whose previous best return was eight-under. “Today was just one of those days when everything went for me – it doesn’t happen that often. After yesterday, I just relaxed and decided to go out and enjoy it. Perhaps that’s the secret.”
After last year’s experience when three strokes spanned the leading five teams going into the final round, Fox is aware that the tournament’s format means fortunes can fluctuate with bewildering speed.
Which is why the Scots will be wary of Ireland who, thanks to rounds of five and four-under from Brendan McGovern and Michael McDermott respectively, lie second.
McGovern’s round was the second best of the day and McDermott’s was matched by Magnus Atlevi of Sweden and Italy’s Andrea Signor.
The latter, plus Federico Elli’s one-under, ensured the Italians occupy third place on five-under, two strokes clear of France and England.