Fox thankful for Irish Open invite

By Brian Keogh

Noel Fox is thanking his lucky stars for his Irish Open invite - because he has no idea how it came along.

The Dubliner, 33, got a call out of the blue and still can't believe his good fortune.

He said: "It's worked out perfect for me. But I still haven't worked out who has been good to me.

"I didn't pursue the invite, I was approached and I didn't want to say no.

"I was just told 'The Irish Open would really like you to play.'

"It is a difficult one for me, because I don't know who to thank. Now I just want to go down there and play well."

Fox turned professional in 2005 after a stellar amateur career that saw him win six championships and a Walker Cup and earn more International caps than any current Irish touring pro, including Padraig Harrington.
And while he has yet to set the world on fire as a professional, he is hoping to use the Irish Open at Adare Manor as as stepping stone to bigger and better things.

He said: "It is an opportunity for me, if I do well, to have a bit more of a lobby to go to the Challenge Tour and try and get a few more invites there. So there is plenty to play for.

"I have category 13 status on the Challenge Tour but even that is no guarantee that I will get into the Challenge Tour event in Glasson in August.

"So the better I do next week the better the chance I have of appealing to a sponsor for a Challenge Tour event."

Fox played Adare Manor seven years ago and while it has been lengthened considerably since then, he expects a similar challenge this time around thanks to new technology.

He explained. "To be honest, the new length won't make much difference the way drivers have gone these days.

"I'll probably still be hitting from the same places and I can still remember all the holes and that is the sign of a great course."

He will certainly not feel like a fish out of water when he strides on to the range and sees up to 40 familiar faces from his amateur days as well as Challenge Tour events and qualifying schools.

He said: "It is not like coming in as an amateur and being in awe of the thing and not being able to relax.

"Everybody is trying to make it their own way and I don't feel 'Oh he's on the tour, I should be on the tour.'

"Some guys are fortunate and get on straight away. And others are on and off and then on and off again.

"I remember playing a practice round on the Challenge Tour two years ago and Johan Edfors was carrying his own bag.

"Little did we know that the following year he was going to win three times on the main tour.

"No matter where you go there are quality players waiting for a break. Of course I feel I am one of them or I wouldn't be doing it, I suppose."

Fox is a close pal of Harrington's but does not believe that the world No 11 had a hand in getting him into the Irish Open.

The pair chat regularly about golf and Fox admits that he sometimes seeks advice.

But he is not treating the European No 1 as an Agony Aunt and wouldn't want to.

He said: "Padraig and I are pals more than anything. I pick his brain now and again , which is great to be able to do. I am very, very lucky in that way.

"But I wouldn't be picking up the phone to call him if I was playing bad golf. That's the last thing I'd want to do.

"Generally, he's a good sounding board and I'd be happy enough if I go to the Irish Open and I feel that I have played well.

"Whatever that gives me in terms of results, doesn't matter as much. It would just be a nice springboard and I'm grateful to whoever it was gave me the chance."