Russell Knox gave proponents of putting by feel a huge boost by knocking in a couple of 40-foot bombs to win the $7 million Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.
No AimPoint needed for the Scot. He’s a reactive putter.
The Scotsman needed to hole his 40-foot birdie putt on Ballyliffin’s 18th hole to get to 14 under and a chance of a playoff with New Zealand’s Ryan Fox. He duly did so.
The 33-year-old found himself with almost the same length putt from the same location on the first playoff hole. Guess what? It also found the hole. Knox won his second European Tour title when Fox lipped out from inside 15 feet.
The Inverness native shot a closing 66 to come from six shots back after 54 holes to tie Fox at the top of the leaderboard on 14 under.
“After the eagle on the fourth, I knew I was in it because I hadn’t really missed a shot,” Knox said. “The putting got me in this last couple of weeks. I had a great feeling on the greens. I wasn’t really aiming, I was just sort of reacting to the line.
“All the practice, all the misses, all the bad moments are taken care of with putts like that,” he said. “I just remember standing over it and thought just don’t aim, just hit the putt and see what happens and I flushed the putt. Making two of them from almost the same distance is a bit of a bonus but it’s unbelievable.”
Knox had a great feeling when he walked onto the 18th green in the playoff despite Fox’s ball lying inside 15 feet.
“I said to James (caddie James Williams): ‘Well, we’ve already made this putt so it can’t be too difficult.’”
Knox now heads to Scotland looking to win the Scottish Open. He’s on a pretty good run. He was second in the French Open the week before Ireland and is now in with a shot at a Ryder Cup debut.
“To make the Ryder Cup team you have to win tournaments,” Knox said, “and this is a heck of a start.”