Heir to cricket and rugby excellence, New Zealand golfer Ryan Fox blazes his own trail | CNN



Pursuing a career in professional sports is hard. Following in your family’s footsteps is hard.

Now imagine doing both at the same time.

For Ryan Fox, shouldering the legacy of two generations of New Zealand sporting greats was a daily reality long before he rose to become one of the world’s best golfers.

First, there was Merv Wallace. To Fox, he was grandad, but to the rest of the country, he was a renowned former national team cricketer and later, coach.

Though a prolific batting career in Auckland was disrupted at international level by the World War II, with Wallace playing only 13 Test matches, his legacy in the sport was still notable. When he died aged 91 in 2008, one obituary described him as “one of the best batsmen New Zealand has ever produced.”

Wallace during the New Zealand team's tour in England, 1949.

Then came Wallace’s son-in-law Grant Fox, a name that needs no introduction to anyone familiar with rugby.

Winner of the inaugural World Cup in 1987, the legendary flyhalf played 56 times for the All Blacks, carving a reputation as one of the greatest goal-kickers in the game before retiring as the country’s all-time leading test points scorer.

Both Wallace and Fox were individually honored during Queen Elizabeth’s reign for services to their sports.

If that wasn’t enough family sporting heritage, Wallace’s brother and son – George and Gregory – both played first-class cricket for Auckland.

Grant Fox kicks during the All Blacks tour of Britain in 1989.

Now, there is Grant’s son, Ryan. It’s a tough family act to follow, but with a world No.26 rank and three DP World Tour wins to his name, the 35-year-old is fronting up quite nicely.

“It’s pretty cool to be the third generation of my family to represent New Zealand,” Fox told CNN’s The Jazzy Golfer. “I don’t think there’d be too many other families that could say that.

“I’m sure there’s families that have done it over the same sport, but different sports is quite cool.”

Growing up, cricket and rugby seemed natural choices to Fox, and he played both well into his school years.

He didn’t even up pick up a club until he was 10-years-old. In true family fashion, it was to play a round in Auckland among sporting royalty; dad Grant plus cricketing trio Ian Botham, Martin Crowe, and Mark Nicholas. Soon after, Wallace crafted his grandson his first clubs from wood, and Fox was hooked.

Weekends and school holidays would be consumed by golf, and when the teenager was passing up on parties to hit the fairways, he realized he was in deep.

By the time he was at Auckland University starting a law degree, golf was rapidly overtaking studies, as well as other sports.

Men’s cricket didn’t offer the same enjoyment, and as for rugby, “too many concussions.”

“Looking back on it, golf was the sport I enjoyed the most,” Fox said.

“I’d always wanted to be a professional sportsman, it just took a fair while to figure out what sport it was going to be.”

Fox lines up a putt at the 2008 New Zealand Amateur Championship.

Not playing his first tournament until 18, Fox was a late bloomer, but made up for lost time emphatically. Two years later he made the national squad, and as a 24-year-old in 2011 he clinched the New Zealand Stroke Play, with none other than Dad as his caddy. Within a year, he had turned professional.

Having started on the PGA Tour of Australasia and the Challenge Tour, by 2019, Fox was a regular face on the European Tour, floating around the world No. 100 mark. Yet after his maiden Tour win at the World Super 6 Perth in February, that rank had slid steadily to No. 211 by early 2022.

The travel implications of New Zealand’s strict response to the pandemic saw Fox’s tournament appearances drop, with the birth of his daughter in December 2020 having a similar impact on his playing mindset.

“When you add that in with all the travel restrictions and not knowing whether I could get back home to see them [family], I’d have left home not knowing when I’d see them again,” Fox said.

“I think that makes it pretty hard to play good golf on the course with all that stuff in the back of your mind.”

Grant Fox caddied for his son at various tournaments during his early career.

To say Fox has rebounded since is, even in his own words, an understatement.

Having sealed a dominant five-stroke victory at the Ras Al Khaimah Classic in February, he secured seven top-10 finishes before claiming more silverware at the renowned Alfred Dunhill Links Championship earlier this month.

His roughly €2,621,000 ($2,627,000) earnings across 22 European Tour events this season mark an almost two-fold increase on purses gained across the previous three campaigns.

Fox celebrates victory at the Ras Al Khaimah Classic in the United Arab Emirates.

Only Rory McIlroy and Matt Fitzpatrick sit above him on the European Tour rankings and at world No. 26, he is the sole New Zealand golfer inside the top 250. All in all, Fox believes he is comfortably playing the best golf of his career.

“When you take the off the golf course stuff out of it, it certainly makes it easier to play well and I think that’s been the biggest thing this year,” he said.

“I’ve had patches where I’ve contended in tournaments and felt like I’ve competed with the best players in the world, but it certainly hasn’t been consistent.

“I’ve felt a lot more comfortable out there, a lot more comfortable in contention and felt week in week out that the golf game’s never that far away which has certainly been a nice place to be.”

Fox poses with the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship trophy with mother Adele Fox, father Grant Fox, wife Anneke Fox and their daughter Isabel Fox on the Swilcan Bridge at St. Andrews.

Given his form, a few eyebrows were raised when Fox didn’t receive a Presidents Cup call-up from International Team captain Trevor Immelman ahead of the September tournament.

The New Zealander has since spoken of his disappointment at missing out, though he is determined to use the hurt as motivation in pursuit of other goals – above all, stamping his ticket to The Masters at Augusta in April.

“I ticked off the goal to get in the top 50, but the big one would be to stay in the top 50 for the end of the year and get that Masters invite for next year. Another win would certainly help in securing that,” he said.

“Obviously there’s a lot of good players and still a lot of golf to come, but hopefully the good form from this year continues into that.”


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Andriy Shevchenko: War changed everything | CNN


Andriy Shevchenko: War changed everything

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the soccer icon has visited four times. He spoke with CNN’s Becky Anderson about the work he’s been doing there to lift spirits and help his country recover.


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Two returned touchdowns in one minute give the Arizona Cardinals the edge in 42-34 victory over New Orleans Saints | CNN



A 64-second play turned the game on its head as the Arizona Cardinals beat the New Orleans Saints 42-34 in a thrilling Thursday Night Football clash.

Deep in the second quarter, Saints stand-in quarterback Andy Dalton threw two pick-sixes in back-to-back drives that gave the Cardinals a 28-14 lead at half-time.

Following last Thursday’s dismal 12-7 win for the Commanders over the Bears – and with two of the lowest scoring teams in the league going head-to-head this week, fans could have been forgiven for giving this one a miss.

Instead, it was a feast of attacking football and aggressive defense, leading to one of the highest-scoring games this season.

The Cardinals ended the longest streak in the NFL of consecutive games without scoring 40+ (87 games).

The Saints took the lead after two minutes when Dalton threw a 53-yard pass to find Rashid Shaheed. Following a couple Cardinals field goals, Dalton threw his second touchdown in the second quarter, this time only three yards to Tayson Hill who powered over the line.

The Cardinals came back into it with a Keontay Ingram run-in and a two-point conversion with 2:28 on the clock. Then, the game fell apart for the Saints in the next couple minutes.

Dalton, with one of the most inconsistent performances in recent memory, threw a pass to receiver Marquez Callaway who bobbled the catch, letting Marco Wilson to intercept and run it in for six.

Just a minute later Dalton, under pressure, threw a loose pass. Isaiah Simmons pulled off a stunning one-handed catch before returning for 56 yards to pull the Cardinals ahead by 14 at half-time.

The two teams traded touchdowns in the second half, but after the Saints scored a field goal to reduce the deficit to eight, they failed with a last-minute onside kick and the Cardinals saw out the game.

For the Saints — and specifically for Dalton — it was a night where they were punished for their inconsistency. Dalton, who is playing in the place of the injured Jameis Winston, threw four touchdowns and 361 yards, but also threw three interceptions, of which two were returned.

The victory keeps hopes of a playoff spot alive for the Cardinals, who now sit 3-4 ahead of their trip to Minnesota to face the Vikings on Octoer 30.

For the 1-4 Saints, who will host the Raiders on October 30, any hopes of a playoff spot seem all but finished.


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From childhood hero to playing partner, Adrian Meronk’s fairytale Open meeting with Tiger Woods | CNN



Never meet your idols, the saying goes. Try telling that to Adrian Meronk.

At the Open Championship in July, the Polish golfer tracked down Tiger Woods for a photo. Twenty-four hours later, he was chatting away with the 15-time major champion for nine holes of the legendary St. Andrews Old Course.

The fact Meronk was even at the same tournament as his childhood hero was itself a pinch-me moment. Just two weeks prior at the Irish Open, the 29-year-old had made history as the first Pole to win on the DP World Tour, stamping his maiden ticket to the 150th edition of the major.

Spotting Woods on the putting green on the Monday, Meronk holed his picture opportunity, believing that another chance would be unlikely to arise once the competition began Thursday.

Imagine his shock then when, strolling on to the 10th tee for his practice round at 8:45am the following morning, he saw none other than a lone Woods, readying his opening drive. After asking him if it was ok to join, Meronk spent the rest of the morning side-by-side with golfing royalty.

“That was probably one of my childhood dreams, so I received a lot of messages from back home and that was very exciting for me,” Meronk told CNN’s The Jazzy Golfer.

“I picked his brain a little bit. He was very kind to me, quite talkative as well, so I was quite surprised.”

Meronk and Woods pose for a photo during their practice round.

What would you ask your idol? For Meronk, it was important to begin with competition advice, especially as Woods is a two-time Open champion at St. Andrews.

With the Open potentially not returning to St. Andrews until 2030, speculation had been swirling that the 150th edition would be Woods’ last at the Scottish venue, especially given his physical struggles.

The 46-year-old had made a remarkable comeback to the sport following injuries sustained in a car accident in 2021, with returning to St. Andrews his main focus during a punishing recovery process.

“I started with some advice on the course, some lines and stuff like that,” Meronk recalled. “Some advice on how to deal with putting when it’s really windy.

“Then he was telling me about his first Open at St. Andrews, because he asked me if that was my first Open.

“I asked him how he was feeling, how is his health and stuff like that, just casual stuff. He was very open.”

Meronk and Woods stroll past the St. Andrews Old Course Hotel.

The legendary golfer’s tournament ended in moving scenes on the Friday as, having missed the cut, a tearful Woods was serenaded down the 18th fairway by a heaving St. Andrews crowd. For Meronk, it was an ovation fit for the greatest of all time.

“Probably to most of the guys here he was the idol and still is to be honest,” he said. “With what he has achieved, I’d say he is the greatest in our sport for sure.”

Unlike Woods, Morenk’s time in St. Andrews went the distance. Enduring a nightmare three-over 75 start, the Pole roared back with an impressive 68 to make it to the weekend, where two strong rounds of 70 and 69 saw him record a solid 42nd place finish on his Open debut.

Meronk plays from the tee during the third round at The Open.

It marked the latest highlight of an excellent season for Meronk, his best on the DP World Tour since turning professional in 2016. After three-runner up finishes among a string of top-10 placings, the Pole emphatically laid his near-misses to rest with a three-shot victory in Kilkenny, Ireland.

“To be able to win on the DP World Tour was always a goal of mine, always a dream,” Meronk said. “To able to do it in Ireland, at the Irish Open, at such a historic event, it was a very great feeling for me.

“I had a great season this year, I was very close a couple of times, so it was also such a relief for me that I finally got it done.”

Meronk celebrates his Irish Open win in July.

As well as writing a winner’s earnings check for over €974,000 ($947,690), the triumph also penned Meronk into the history books as the Tour’s first-ever champion from Poland, a country not famed for its golfing prowess.

Comfortably Poland’s highest ranked golfer at 64th in the world, Meronk’s best ranked compatriot is Mateusz Gradecki at No. 341. After that, there is currently no Polish golfer inside the top 2,700.

“It did [feel historic],” Meronk said. “More and more people are following me back in Poland but also all around the world. There’s a lot of Polish people everywhere.

“There was a lot of Polish people in the crowd congratulating me and I received a lot of messages from back home, so that was really exciting and also motivates me to go even further.”

Meronk poses with the Polish flag after his first Tour win.

At 6ft 6 inches tall, Meronk uses clubs that are longer and have different lie angles to accommodate his towering frame. To counterbalance his natural bend over the ball, Meronk repeats a rigorous posture drill five times before each session. While his longer levers allow him to drive the ball greater distances, he believes his height presents a tradeoff in the short game.

“I’ll probably have to catch other guys with accuracy,” he said.

“I have to be working on that a little bit more, especially around the green and short game. So there are drawbacks as well, but I think I can hit a little bit further with the longer levers for sure.”


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