Ryan Fox soars into world's top 100, Mike Hendry battles back injury ahead of The Open

Ryan Fox heads into The Open with a pair of tied for fourth-place finishes on the European Tour.
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Ryan Fox heads into The Open with a pair of tied for fourth-place finishes on the European Tour.

Kiwi golfers Ryan Fox and Mike Hendry have experienced contrasting fortunes at Royal Birkdale as they begin preparations for the Open Championship this week.

As Fox toasted his rise into the world's top-100 for the first time, following his fourth-equal finish at the Scottish Open, Hendry revealed he was struggling with a back injury.

The New Zealand Open champion, who qualified for his first Open Championship with a second placing at the Mizuno Open in Japan in May, said he was hampered by a back problem and could only play nine holes in his first day of practice at Royal Birkdale.

New Zealand Open champion Mike Hendry has revealed he is battling a back injury in the leadup to his first appearance in ...
HANNAH JOHNSTON/GETTY IMAGES

New Zealand Open champion Mike Hendry has revealed he is battling a back injury in the leadup to his first appearance in The Open this week.

Hendry struggled with a bulging disc in his back before his breakthrough NZ Open win in Queenstown in March, and said the current problem was frustrating and not golf-related.

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"I'll get on a flight and and when I arrive I'll be moving luggage or something and it will flare up on me," Hendry told Radio Sport. "It's frustrating but I'm just doing my best to be fit for Thursday."

Hendry has been grouped with Brian Harman of the US and Martin Laird of Scotland for the opening two rounds of the tournament, starting Thursday night (NZT).

Fox, meanwhile, is in the form of his career and jumped 27 places from 122nd to 95th following his performance at Dundonald Links at the weekend.

It was his third successive top-10 finish in July and his rankings climb also improves his chances of a PGA Championship appearance in the US if Fox can perform well this week.

In his first year as a fully-fledged member of the European Tour, the Auckland professional moved past Hendry (ranked 110) to be the second-highest New Zealander on the world list.

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The second alternate for The Open, Danny Lee, slipped one place to 77th but is still the country's top-ranked player.

Lee withdrew from the PGA Tour's John Deere Classic at the weekend after one round, citing a shoulder and wrist injury.

​Fox has been paired with American Matt Kuchar and Scotland's Richie Ramsay this week, for his second Open appearance after an impressive debut at St Andrews two years ago where he finished 49th.

Big-hitting American Dustin Johnson continues his run at the top, ahead of Japan's Hideki Matsuyama and countryman Jordan Spieth.

The only change in the top 10 has seen Spanish sensation Jon Rahm move from eighth to seventh, swapping places with Swedish star Henrik Stenson.

 - Stuff

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