Number Crunching 2013: Russell Knox

Russell Knox hits his tee shot on the eighth hole during the first round of the Hotel Fitness Championship.

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Over the final two weeks of 2013, we will be breaking down players that rose and fell over the past 12 months. Check out the entire series here.

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Russell Knox

Ranking/movement: +165 (No. 221 to No. 56)

Why the rise?: Knox split fairways while splitting time in 2013 between the PGA Tour and Web.com Tour, making eight of 11 cuts and finishing No. 166 in the FedEx Cup point standings, and 12 of 15 cuts on the Web.com Tour.

On the big tour, the 28-year-old from Inverness, Scotland, averaged 285 yards and led the league by hitting the fairway 73.68 percent of the time. He also ranked eighth in greens in regulation at 68.95 percent.

Fairways and greens always have been Knox’s bread and butter. He attributes the biggest improvement in his game to his mental approach. As a disciple of instructors Lynn Marriott and Pia Nilsson, Knox has been schooled in the Vision 54 philosophy of striving for a birdie on every hole. He came close, shooting the fifth 59 in Web.com Tour history, and missing a chance to break the tour record when he parred the final two holes in the second round of the Albertsons Boise Open.

“I think Vision 54 really helped when I shot 59,” he said. “It’s not easy to shoot 59 but when 54 is your goal it’s a little easier.”

Knox showed steady improvement all year, qualifying for the U.S. Open and tying for 45th in his first major. He saved his best for last, tying for seventh or better in three of his final six starts on the Web.com Tour. The former Jacksonville University standout secured his card with a tie for sixth in the Web.com Tour Championship in front of friends and family at Dye’s Valley Course at TPC Sawgrass.

Knox is confident that his game is ready to take the next leap forward in his second tour of duty with full Tour status. He opened the 2013-2014 season by making his first four cuts.

“My first year I was kind of hoping to play well,” he said. “Now I come here and I don’t care about anyone else who is playing in the field and I’m focused on what I need to do to play well.”

Knox says: “I feel like I’ve started to earn respect from other players. That’s the biggest thing to be able to walk out on that practice green and feel in your gut like you belong.”

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