Last updated Friday 22nd September 2023.
There could soon be two Kiwis teeing off regularly on the PGA Tour.
Ryan Fox’s victory at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth last week has all but secured his PGA Tour card for next season, his win propelling him to third on the DP World Tour order of merit rankings behind golf superstars Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm.
The top 10 players on the rankings at the end of the year, who aren’t otherwise exempt, will earn their PGA Tour cards for next season.
Thanks to his recent win, Fox leads the list of players fighting for PGA Tour eligibility, but his compatriot Daniel Hillier is also well in the hunt for a top 10 spot, despite a rough showing last week.
Hillier had a week to forget at Wentworth, carding a five-over 77 on his first round and withdrawing halfway through his second day after shooting eight-over in nine holes.
The 24-year-old revealed he was struggling with a “slight strain” on his shoulder that flared up during his first round, and while he didn’t want to use it as an excuse for his poor performance, it was clearly something that affected his tournament.
“My shoulder was playing up a little bit, but I don’t really want to make that an excuse. It just made it hard to commit to golf shots,” he told the Herald last week.
“It’s sort of a gradual thing; it doesn’t feel like a torn muscle or anything. Might just be a slight strain.”
Hillier seems to have shaken off his shoulder issue and teed up overnight at the Open de France at Le Golf National – another chance for Hillier and the rest of the PGA Tour hopefuls to move up the rankings.
The DP World Tour rookie claimed his maiden win on tour at the British Masters in July, and currently sits in 16th on the list of players chasing those coveted top 10 spots, one behind European Ryder Cup team member and Danish rising star Nicolai Hojgaard.
With only six events remaining before the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai in November, Hillier knows he needs to put together a strong run of performances to move up the rankings and earn his PGA Tour card.
Hillier said finishing in that top 10 is “100 per cent” the goal, but he isn’t obsessing over the rankings and is taking a more relaxed approach to the rest of his season.
“I’m more concerned with playing my game and letting the results take care of themselves.
“I’ve figured out that if you keep that stuff in the backburner and just focus on your own game, the more I do that, the better I tend to play. So hopefully I can just focus on what I can control and let the rest just take care of itself.”
If both Fox and Hillier earn their PGA Tour cards for next season, it will be the first time in almost a decade that New Zealand has had multiple representatives on golf’s premier tour, when Danny Lee, Tim Wilkinson and Steven Alker competed during the 2014-15 season.