Russell Knocking on Bjørn's Door
After disappointingly missing out on The 2016 Ryder Cup, Russell Knox has put himself right on the bubble of an automatic spot in Thomas Bjørn’s side with his victory at the fourth Rolex Series Event of the year – the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation.
Coming off a second place finish at the HNA Open de France a week previous, the Scot’s form continued at Ballyliffin Golf Club. A scintillating final round of 66 (six under par), which included raking in a 40ft birdie putt on the last, was enough to put him in a playoff with New Zealand’s Ryan Fox.
What happened next was quite incredible. Having found the green in two on 18, Knox again holed out from around 40ft for birdie, this time to win the playoff and the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation.
Knox’s stellar performances the past two weeks have moved the Scotsman up to 11th in the Ryder Cup rankings on 2,473,179.8 points. However, he will need more impressive performances in the following months if he is to catch Francesco Molinari, the final player in the automatic spots on the European Points List, as he sits comfortably on 3,225,221.5 points.
World Number Five Jon Rahm put in another strong performance on the European Tour, finishing in a tie for 4th thanks to a final round 66. Thorbjørn Olesen also remains on the bubble but another good week finishing T6 means he will certainly be on Bjørn’s mind for the biennial match in September.
As things stand, Tyrrell Hatton, Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari make up the top four qualifiers on the European Points List and Jon Rahm, Alex Noren, Rory McIlroy and Paul Casey make up the next four qualifiers through World Points List.
Next up on the European Tour is the fifth Rolex Series event of the year as Gullane Golf Club hosts the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open.