Saturday, 22 September, 2018

Knox socks it to Fox with box-office Irish Open finish

Rahm almost holed his approach at the par-four last Rahm almost holed his approach at the par-four last
Rita Gibson | 12 July, 2018, 02:41

New Zealand's Ryan Fox has come agonisingly close to winning the STG5.3-million ($A9.5-million) Irish Open, losing in a playoff to Scotland's Russel Knox at the Ballyliffin Golf Club.

New Zealander Fox put his approach into the 18th to ten feet but he missed his putt for the title, leaving the pair walking back to play the 18th again.

Incredibly, Knox had hit a near-identical shot on the same 18th hole to finish off his round initially. I'm so happy. I said to my caddie (on the play-off hole) we've already made this putt, it can't be too hard. The way I managed to do it, holing those two long putts, it was just my time.

"It was a little straighter than the other one, but it was tracking on a nice line and for it to go in, I feel bad for Ryan, but I guess it was my time".

Fox played some brilliant golf over the 72 holes at Ballyliffin after taking the outright lead in day one and being in the mix all week.

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McIlroy will spend several days in London at the start of this week before stepping up his preparation for Carnoustie, where he made his Open debut as an 18-year-old and won the silver medal for leading amateur. "I hit the ball the best I've hit it on Thursday and I felt like I sort of kept it up".

South Africa's Eric van Rooyen blew his four-shot overnight lead with a 74 for 12 under par, level with defending champion Jon Rahm, who overcame a triple bogey at the second to post an impressive 66. "On that last putt I said to my caddie, "I've already made this putt, so it can't be too difficult".

Russell Knox's hopes of making this year's European Ryder Cup have received a significant boost with victory in the Irish Open. He'd already marked our cards with back-to-back T4s in the Scottish and Irish Opens a year ago but this acts as a further reminder that he's a go-to guy whenever the European Tour heads for the links.

"To make that team, obviously you have to win tournaments", added Knox, who climbs to eighth in the qualifying race and back inside the world's top 50. But he hit a final-round 66 and Fox a 68 to reach 14 under par, one ahead of Spain's Jorge Campillo.

In terms of the Irish on the field, Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry were best placed, both on 2 under, 12 shots off the victor.

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