Russell Knox eyes Open success & Ryder Cup spot after Irish Open win

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Russell Knox eyes Open success & Ryder Cup spot after Irish Open win

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Russell Knox intends to “keep the hammer down” on home soil over the next two weeks in a bid to secure a spot in Europe’s team for the Ryder Cup.

The Scot holed two remarkable 40-foot putts to beat New Zealander Ryan Fox in a play-off to win the Irish Open.

It catapulted him to eighth in the European Ryder Cup standings before this week’s Scottish Open and the Open Championship at Carnoustie next week.

“To make that team, obviously you have to win tournaments,” said Knox.

“This is a great start but it is not good enough. I need to hammer down and I’m going to have to make that team in order to go to France.

“Right now I’m enjoying winning this trophy and if I struggle the next two weeks I’m still going to enjoy this moment. I’m not being greedy right now but you never know.

“I would love to win the Scottish Open as well and for me to be playing in the Open at Carnoustie, one of the best courses in the world, I’m very happy. Might as well go try and win there.”

US-based Knox was controversially overlooked for a Ryder Cup wildcard in 2016 by then European captain Darren Clarke despite being ranked 20th in the world at the time, higher than seven members of the team who would go on to lose at Hazeltine.

After finishing 12th in the recent US Open, Knox started a month-long sojourn in Europe last week by finishing tied for second at the French Open at Le Golf National in Paris, the venue for this year’s Ryder Cup from 28-30 September.

That lifted the 33-year-old to 87th in the world rankings, and he is now up to 49 after his stunning victory at Ballyliffin in County Donegal.

Inverness-born Knox holed a 40-foot birdie on the first play-off hole, after earlier draining an almost identical putt to card a six-under 66 and force the extra hole.

Russell Knox watches a putt on the 18th hole of his final round<!–<!–[if lte IE 8]><![endif]–>

It was his first victory since the Travelers Championship in the US in 2016, a winning cheque of almost £890,000 lifting him to fifth place in the Race to Dubai standings.

It was also the first victory by a Scot on the European Tour since Richie Ramsay’s at the Trophee Hassan II event in Morocco in 2015.

“The goal was to come to Europe for a month and try to win a tournament,” added Knox.

“To finish tied-second last week and then to win this great tournament… I feel very lucky; it is unbelievable.

“I knew after I eagled the fourth hole I had a chance. I hadn’t missed a shot at that point, I knew I was swinging well, I knew I was going to make birdies.

“It was a nice, calm, comfortable feeling. I just put my head down and didn’t really look at the scoreboard until near the end.

“I have struggled with my putting for a long time but I have been working hard with my coach back home, just visualising more, and it was one of the best putting weeks I have had.”

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Source: BBC SPORT NI

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