It's a very different feeling for Kiwi golfer Ryan Fox arriving in Mexico for this week's World Golf Championships tournament than a year ago.

Fox's maiden European Tour victory in Perth last year secured him an invite into the WGC tournament. But he faced a marathon journey from Perth and only arrived the night before his first round. He finished 11 over for the tournament in a tie for 67th.

"Last year was a funny one and it was the only tournament I have ever turned up on a Wednesday night after not seeing the golf course at all and playing it Thursday morning.

"Not sure how I did it, I didn't feel great getting up this morning and was on the same flights over." Fox said.


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The difference is Fox arrived on Sunday (Mexico time) and has played nine holes today and will get at least two more rounds in before the tournament starts early Friday morning.

"I don't want to put too much pressure on myself this year either, just go out and see the golf course and play it a couple more times.

"The whole idea was to play nine holes today and get rid of the cobwebs today and if I had sat in the hotel room I would have wrecked myself jet lag and sleep wise for the rest of the week.

"So I just hit a few balls and did a little bit of putting and played nine holes. It was nice to reacquaint myself with the golf course and see how the ball goes up at 8 and a half thousand feels, so it was nice getting out there today." Fox said.

It's the extreme altitude that is the biggest hurdle players have to overcome this week and Fox says it's a juggling act with club selection.

"I think my stock standard 7 iron pitching distance today was 205 metres which is 30 metres further than normal. So it's a little bit silly this week, it's quite weird trying to adjust your eyes.

"You get used to seeing how far a ball should go and it still feels like a little bit of a guess, but hopefully come Thursday me and Jordan, my caddy, might have figured it out.

"The biggest thing here I think this week is patience and to accept you can hit a good shot and not get a good result from it. It's by no fault of anyone's and it's just the fact you are playing at altitude.


"The golf course is very narrow and tree lined, so you have to keep it in play and the greens are really tricky, quite fast and small. You add in the elevation, the altitude, and it's hard to get the ball close to the hole."

It's a huge opportunity for the in-form Kiwi who is coming off a second placed finish at the European PGA Tour's Victorian Open earlier this month, after an eight under par final round. The tournament features no cut and a total prize purse of US$10,500,000 (NZ$16,362,630).

"These are the events you want to play, the prize money and no cut is a bonus." Fox said

"I can probably write off last year with no preparation and it's pretty tough to compete with those guys when you are behind the eight ball. They are missing the likes of Tiger Woods and Brooks Koepka who aren't playing, but there's still a big chunk of the top 50 in the world so it's a pretty decent field and one I want to see where my game is at competing against them."

"I certainly feel like I'm playing okay, I took a few days off last weekend, practiced over the weekend and the game doesn't feel too bad after 18 hours of travel yesterday.

"It's a funny week for me, I've always struggled a little bit at altitude. I think I vary my flights a little, but if you hit it high it goes miles and if you hit lower it doesn't go so far and it's always felt like a little bit of a guess for me at altitude."

Fox will head straight from Mexico to Queenstown via Los Angeles and Auckland after the tournament to play the New Zealand Open at The Hills and Millbrook. He's frustrated that, short of hiring a private jet, there is no way of getting into Queenstown until Wednesday, the day before the tournament starts.

Ryan Fox. Photo / Photosport
Ryan Fox. Photo / Photosport

"It's not ideal arriving so late, but because I have played Millbrook and the Hills a lot I don't need to see the courses. It's just trying to get rid of the jet lag.

"I actually like playing the week before a big tournament, so in that regard I am happy going into New Zealand with some golf under my belt. But it's the fact I can't get out of here Sunday night. If I could get out Sunday night and get into New Zealand Tuesday morning it would help but the way the flights work, Wednesday morning is the earliest I can get in which makes it hard."

"But I know it's doable as Mike Hendry won the New Zealand Open after coming out of here a few years ago (2017). It's certainly doable but it's about managing your time and jet lag pretty well and looking after your body as much as possible. You have to try to get away with the first couple of rounds. If you can put yourself in a half decent position heading into the weekend, you have a chance when you are feeling better."