Ryan Fox has admitted he's wary of golf's rebel Saudi Arabian league as tensions mount in the golfing world.
The Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series, which starts next month, continues to cast a shadow over the sport, with defending PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson announcing last week that he was withdrawing from the year's second major.
Mickelson hasn't played since January after making controversial comments supporting the rebel tour.
Ahead of this week's PGA Championship, Fox said he, along with many other players, was staying cautious around the new competition, despite the "exceptionally silly" money behind it.
"The Saudi thing is a bit of a talking point for I think everyone in golf," Fox told the Herald.
"From the Tour's point of view, [it's] a very scary prospect. It's a direct challenge to their business, and you can see why the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour [European Tour, which Fox plays on] have made the decisions that they've made to not release players.
"From a players' point of view, it's very strange. The money is exceptionally silly; a 48-man field playing for whatever it is, $25 million or something. That's ridiculous. But I think a lot of players are very wary of it, I'm certainly one of them," Fox said.
"You don't want to damage your reputation or damage your ability to play on tour for something that may or may not last very long. There's obviously a lot of chatter around it and there's very differing opinions from both sides of what's been going on so it's a little bit messy. And it's probably going to get very messy once that event in London kicks off in a few weeks."
After yet another strong finish over the weekend in Belgium, Fox has arrived in Tulsa, Oklahoma for this week's PGA Championship with plenty of time to prepare.
Fox finished tied for second at the DP World Tour's Soudal Open on Monday and went straight from the course to Brussels airport to catch a transatlantic flight, but not in a way he's used to.
"I definitely got very lucky. The tournament was putting a [private] jet on for a couple of guys to get to the PGA and I happened to be able to piggyback on the back of them after qualifying. Obviously playing well at the tournament certainly didn't hurt my chances either. It certainly made the trip to the US a lot easier than it would have been otherwise."
The early arrival in Tulsa meant he was able to play nine holes the next day, as opposed to having to wait for a commercial flight.
The extra 24 hours or so just might make the difference in the week of a major.
"There were just seven of us on board and there were courtesy cars waiting on the runway when we arrived. So I got a little bit of a taste of what some of the big boys in the US travel like and yeah it was nice."
Fox's form has been superb since returning from a two-month break after winning for the second time on Tour at the Ras Al Khaimah International in February. Two top 15 finishes in Spain were followed by a tie for eighth at the British Masters, which ultimately got him into the PGA Championship field. His ranking has since climbed from 106th to 90th after his result in Belgium.
Almost all aspects of Fox's game are firing except for one, which will surprise many followers of the long-driving Kiwi.
"Probably what I term is the strongest part of my game has been the weakest part lately: I haven't driven the ball very well. While it's close and it's been either really good or really bad off the tee, and the good has outweighed the bad, but the bad, it's been a little bit destructive at times. But the rest of the game has been really good; the short game has been tidy and I probably had my best week on Tour with the putting last week."
Fox said he still felt happy with his game shortly after playing nine holes at the Southern Hills Country Club, where the PGA takes place this week.
"I'm really happy with where things are at. Obviously coming back after a big break, I didn't really know what to expect. Tie for 15th the first week I was pretty happy with, considering I was rusty and then three top tens in a row.
"I had outside chances the first two weeks to win and then obviously a really good chance last week. I wasn't really playing for outright second or anything, I was trying to win the tournament and you know, occasionally you make mistakes like that. But it was certainly nice to be in contention and good to take that kind of form coming into a major this week."
Fox is now on the verge of qualifying for the US Open in June at the Brookline Country Club in Massachusetts.
He said he will now play a sixth straight tournament next week in the Netherlands, in a bid to cement his spot at the third major of the year.
"I really like the course at the Dutch Open next week, so I'm going to play for the sixth week in a row. Then regardless of what happens, I'm going to take two weeks off. If I do get into the US Open obviously I don't want to be physically and mentally drained going into that event. And I'm obviously in a good place to qualify for that.
"I have still probably got a little bit of work to do it. I feel like my game is in good shape. So there's no reason I can't play well there [at the Dutch Open] again."
It's been a long road for Fox, from facing the challenges of Covid in the last two years and ranking outside the top 200 to being in a position to potentially play in three majors in 2022.
He says he's looking forward to what's ahead.
"Just to be talking about potentially paying two or three majors this year and crack the top 100 in the world, all that stuff's the extra stuff you want. So it's a really good place to be and I'm looking forward to the challenge of the next few weeks."