Scotland once again provided the focal point for the Ryder Cup qualification race when the country hosted the Aberdeen Asset Management Paul Lawrie Match Play while its leading player, Russell Knox, won in America.
Knox claimed a one-shot victory at the Travelers Championship on Sunday night to move into tenth position on the World Points List, just 6.6 points behind Matthew Fitzpatrick who currently occupies the final automatic position on the team.
With just three weeks remaining until the end of the year-long qualification campaign, Knox, who won the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai last November, became just the fourth Scot to break into the top 20 on the Official World Golf Ranking, after Sandy Lyle, Sam Torrance and Colin Montgomerie.
He will now be hoping to follow the illustrious trio into the Ryder Cup arena next month, but back in Knox’s native Scotland, Fitzpatrick offered some glimpses of his match play prowess at Archerfield Links, as he edged closer to an automatic qualifying spot.
The two-time European Tour champion, who has his sights firmly set on becoming the youngest member of Clarke’s 12 man team to face the United States, defeated Ryder Cup vice-captain, Thomas Bjørn in the first round and then dispatched Englishman Matt Ford 6&5, before losing to Alejandro Cañizares 4&3 in an entertaining last 16 encounter. Fitzpatrick’s compatriot Chris Wood, the reigning BMW PGA Champion, also remains in the automatic qualifying spots, after reaching the last 32. Wood defeated Australian Brett Rumford 2&1, before a close-fought 2&1 loss to Daniel Brooks.
That means the nine players currently occupying the automatic spots remain unchanged, with just two more European Tour events – the D+D Real Czech Masters and Made in Denmark – left to go. Captain Clarke will then name his three picks on August 30.