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Rio hopeful Fox claims lead in Slovakia

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 7/07/2016
Amateur Ryan Fox of New Zealand tees off on the 2nd hole during the final round of the 144th Open Championship at The Old Course on July 20, 2015 in St Andrews, Scotland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images) © Getty Amateur Ryan Fox of New Zealand tees off on the 2nd hole during the final round of the 144th Open Championship at The Old Course on July 20, 2015 in St Andrews, Scotland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Ryan Fox is in the box seat to qualify as New Zealand's second men's golfer at the Rio Olympics after a blistering start to a second-tier tournament in Slovakia.

Fox tied the course record with a seven-under 65 to claim the outright first-round lead at the Slovakia Challenge tournament in Senica, a European Challenge Tour event.

Seven birdies in a flawless round at the Penati Golf Resort left Fox one shot clear of Frenchman Romain Langasque.

World No.190 Fox is poised to join Danny Lee as the second qualifier for Rio, with world rankings on Monday to determine the make-up of the field.

The 29-year-old is delighted with his form, coming off a seventh placing in France and runner-up finish in Scotland in recent weeks.

"This course suits my style because I like making birdies," he said.

"You get a lot of wedges around here and on the majority of the greens, if you hit good shots you get rewarded. You might have to be brave to take them on, but you can hit a lot of shots close."

Fox's nearest Olympic rival is 207th-ranked Michael Hendry, who has racked up four top-10 finishes over the last month on the Japanese Tour.

Hendry is in a share of 11th after the first round of the Japan PGA Championship in Hokkaido after opening with a two-under 70.

He is six shots behind runaway Japanese leader Toshinori Muto.

Meanwhile, Lee has made a sound start to the Scottish Open in Aberdeen as he builds up to next week's Open Championship at Royal Troon.

Lee carded a one-under 71 to share 11th at the European Tour event, with his round ruined by a double-bogey seven on the 18th hole.

Without that setback, Lee would have sat level with co-leaders Scott Hend of Australia and Felipe Aguilar of Chile on three-under.

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