Russell Knox: Scottish Open victory would be 'biggest of career'

By Brian McLauchlinBBC Scotland
Russell Knox
Russell Knox was born near Castle Stuart, which backs onto the Moray Firth

Russell Knox believes victory at next month's Scottish Open at Castle Stuart would be the biggest win of his career.

Knox was born just a few miles away in Inverness and is hugely excited about playing on his home patch.

"This is it for me." the 30-year-old Scot explained. "This is one of the biggest tournaments I could ever play.

"To come home to Inverness and play as a pro for the first time is something I thought could never happen, so I can't wait."

Knox, the leading Scot in the world rankings at 24, has been based in the United States since winning a golf scholarship in 2003.

But he is relishing playing so close to his birthplace at the Scottish Open from 7-10 July, a week before the Open at Royal Troon.

"The atmosphere is going to be just amazing and it will feel like playing in a major," he said. "I'll go there and give it a crack.

"Of course winning the WGC event in China was massive for my career, but everyone dreams of winning in their home town and I'd love that to come true for me.

"Even just to play is going to be amazing as well, but if I can play well and get to lift the trophy at the end, it would be a huge bonus.

"If I can win at Castle Stuart, it will be the biggest win of my career."

Home fans 'can roar me on'

Knox recently tied for second place at the Irish Open, won by Rory McIlroy, and the 30-year-old hopes the home crowd will have a similar impact when he turns up in Inverness.

"I've taken a lot of encouragement from my form and recent result at the Irish Open and BMW [PGA Championship at Wentworth]," he said.

"Playing in Ireland with Rory kind of made me look forward to Castle Stuart because he was the heavy home favourite with the crowd."

The Castle Stuartexternal-link course is only seven years old, so most of Knox's golf as a younger man was played a few miles along the coast.

"I wish Castle Stuart was there when I was growing up in Inverness," he said. "I've been able to play it a couple of times over the last few years and it's a spectacular course.

Rory McIlroy and Russell Knox at the Irish Open
Rory McIlroy edged out Russell Knox to win the Irish Open at the K Club

"Growing up, the Nairn Dunbar course was a big part of my childhood. I was basically raised on links golf and I think that helped me improve because there's such an importance to be able to hit all shots."

Knox could have played Castle Stuart the last time the Scottish Open was staged there in 2013, but he turned down the opportunity to try to retain his tour privileges in the USA.

"I wanted to play there so badly, but I was struggling to keep my card in the US at the time, so I had a horrible decision to make," he recalls.

"Ultimately, it has worked out fine, but at the time I was still 100% convinced that I'd made the wrong decision not to come and play.

"I'm very happy that I managed to play well and it's taken care of itself now."

Ryder Cup hopes

Knox became a member of the European Tour at the start of 2016 with a view to trying to force his way into Darren Clarke's Ryder Cup team, which takes on the USA at Hazeltine in September.

"My Ryder Cup chances are going to come down to the three majors that are left and the Scottish Open," he said.

"I will be playing the WGC Bridgestone event in Akron even though it is the same week as the French Open.

"The points don't count, but a big performance there would also go a long way.

"I have the opportunity. If I play well, my chances are good. If I don't play well then I won't deserve it."

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