Golf: Kiwi Ryan Fox poised near lead after opening round of Ras Al Kaimah Championship in UAE

Kiwi Ryan Fox lies three shots off the lead of the Ras Al Kaimah Championship in the United Arab Emirates, after carding a five-under-par 67 on the opening round at Al Hamra Golf Club.

Fox, 36, recorded six birdies and just the one bogey on the par-four 12th, when he hit from the fairway into a greenside bunker, then chipped over the green from the sand.

Teeing off on the 10th hole, he was square with the card after seven, but back-to-back birdies on 17 and 18 kickstarted his round, with three more on the front nine. Fox missed a four-foot putt on the ninth that would have boosted him into a share of second.

Japanese Ryo Hisatzune leads by two strokes, after his opening 64, including six straight birdies and seven from eight on the front nine. Fox features in a sixway tie for fifth, with Japanese Kazuki Higa, Dane Oliver Hundeboll, Swede Alexander Bjork, Brit Callum Shinkwin and South African Oliver Bekker.

After a career year that saw him finish second on the DP World Tour and named Players' Player of the Year, Fox has gotten off to a shaky start to the new season, entering the Ras Al Kaimah Championship in 62nd on the standings, but projected to improved 22 spots, if he can maintain his current pace.

He was bothered by a stomach bug over his final round at last week's Dubai Desert Classic, where he finished tied for 20th, closing with a one-over-par 73.

"Woke up feeling a little dodgy stomach this morning, but took a couple of pills and feel fine now," he said. "I'm probably a little lethargic to be honest, but I've managed my energy levels pretty well this week, so hopefully by tomorrow or Saturday, I start to feel 100 percent again.

After his round, he was quick to pursue his second great love - fishing - with caddy Dean Smith and fellow Kiwi Daniel Hillier, who sits tied for 30th with a two-under 70.

"Nothing massive caught, but lots of fun out there," Fox posted on social media.