Shane Warne’s golfing obsession remembered at the Australian Open

Whenever his phone pinged and Shane Warne’s name flashed on the screen, Ryan Fox smiled because he knew he was in for a good golfing time.

The Kiwi star has enjoyed the best year of his own career in 2022, which included an emotional victory in the Dunhill Links at St Andrews, a teams event where until Warne’s untimely death the pair had formed an incredible bond.

Fox has decided to end his year in Melbourne, in bayside Melbourne too, Warne territory, hoping he has enough juice in the tank to challenge for an Australian Open win that would be a fitting tribute to his great mate.

As the Test season begins for the first time in nearly 30 years without Warne involved as a player or commentator, Fox conceded his world too was different now knowing those messages for a game, usually in London, would no longer come.

But even the thought of those calls from nowhere brought a big smile to Fox’s face as he remembered what a “great man” Warne, who loved telling the story of his hole in one at Augusta, was.

“I mean, if you spoke to him enough, he was obsessed with golf. I think he’s a member of more golf clubs than anyone. He probably played more golf than probably I did,” Fox said.

“And it was his competition. Obviously, (he) couldn’t give up the competition side of his life, and that was his competition when cricket finished.

“It meant a lot this year to win at Dunhill, and I would have loved for him to be there. He absolutely loved that event.

“Last year we finished second as a team and I’d birdied the last hole at Kingsbarns the day before to get us in the team cut and me in the pro cut and he was absolutely buzzing about that.

“He was so excited to play on Sunday and we did have probably a few too many vodka Red Bulls that Saturday night, but he was just such a huge golf fan.”

More than that, Warne was a huge Fox supporter, and as so many of Warne’s friends recalled upon his death, he enjoyed their successes too.

“Anytime I did well on something I’d get a message from him and to have one of your idols do that was amazing. To be able to call him a mate was an honour,” Fox said.

“It was pretty emotional week at Dunhill, and I don’t know if I believe in that stuff, but I kind of felt like he was there somehow that week looking down, helping out.

“Everything just felt nice and calm out on the golf course. And that was kind of what he was like, right? No matter what was going on elsewhere, he’d get on the pitch and he’d just turn it on and that’s kind of what it felt like that week for me.”

They didn’t often win as a pairing though, including in a showdown with former English tennis great Tim Henman on one of those occasions Fox was invited into the Warne world, that world where he knew everyone.

“It was always cool to get a message from Warnie when he was in the UK and say, ‘Hey, I’m playing golf at Greenwood or we’re playing golf at Sunningdale’, and he’d ask me to join,” Fox said.

“We played Sunningdale with Tim Henman and another one of his good mates Terry Crawley (father of English batter Zac), who is off scratch, and Henman’s off plus four and me and Warnie got absolutely wiped, they hammered us.

“He (Warne) always had a few bets going and he just absolutely loved it.

“He had so much time for everyone and I experienced that first hand and I was lucky enough to be to be one of those people able to call him a mate.”

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