US Open 2016: Russell Knox to alter Oakmont preparations

By Brian McLauchlinBBC Scotland
Russell Knox
Russell Knox is the highest-placed Scot in the world rankings at 24
2016 US Open
Venue: Oakmont Country Club, Pennsylvania Dates: 16-19 June
Coverage: Listen live on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra from Friday and follow live text on the BBC Sport website from Thursday.

Russell Knox says he will change his build-up to this week's US Open at Oakmont in an attempt to improve his record in major championships.

The Scot, 30, has competed in five majors but only made the cut in his first one, the 2013 US Open at Merion.

"I need to get the right balance of preparation and practice to really feel refreshed and ready to go," Knox said.

"I feel I've done a really poor job of that before. I'm going to try not to make that error in the coming week."

Inverness-born Knox failed to progress to the final two rounds of the 2014 and 2015 US PGA Championships, the 2015 Open and this year's Masters.

"One thing I have struggled with is the practice days," explained the world number 24.

"On most PGA Tour and European Tour events there is a pro-am on the Wednesday, so you tend to travel on the Monday, practice on the Tuesday and play the pro-am on the Wednesday.

"With a major there is no pro-am so I have tended to get there too early on the Monday and play too much from Monday to Wednesday."

The magic formula? Less is more

When Knox became the first Scot to win a WGC tournament last year in Shanghai, he was a last-minute reserve - and says his preparation turned out to be perfect.

"When I won in China I had only played the course once before Thursday; I didn't practice at all on the Wednesday and went on to win. Maybe my magic formula is less is more."

Knox will be the only Scot in the 156-strong field at Oakmont next week, a fact that has not been lost on the Florida-based player.

Russell Knox
The biggest win of Knox's career came in China last year, when he won the WGC Champions trophy

"I'm disappointed that I'll be the only one there," he said. "I would love there to be 20 Scots in the field. So it's a shame that nobody else has made it.

"But I think a lot of the guys have been playing better lately - so I can see a change coming soon, a nice little peak in Scottish golf. They are all about to start playing better, so I'm not too worried about it."

Taming 'brutally difficult' Oakmont

This week's Oakmont venue, in Pennsylvania, has been described as one of the toughest on the PGA Tour, but Knox believes the demanding course will bring out the best from the top golfers in the world.

"I know it is going to be brutally difficult, but that's quite right," he said. "It is the US Open, it needs to be difficult. That is why it produces the best winners.

"I have never been there but I have heard a lot of horror stories about how difficult the course is.

"The greens are meant to be slopey and super-fast. It is meant to be very penal off the tee. The fairway bunkers are extremely penal. If you drive it in one of those, you are more than likely just hacking it out.

"The US Open is one of those tournaments you have to change your mindset for. More disciplined players tend to win that type of tournament.

"It's hard to get it into your head that you're maybe four or five over par and you're really not doing that badly."

Sawgrass meltdown 'will make me stronger'

Knox was recently six shots off the lead, but only two off second place, at the Players Championship at Sawgrass when his third round capitulated at the infamous 17th hole.

Russell Knox
Knox was in contention at the Players Championship until he took a nine at the par-three 17th

Three balls in the water led to a nine on his scorecard, but his good-humoured reactionexternal-link when finally landing his ball on the green - raising his arms, pumping his fists - and his mock celebration at holing the putt, endeared him to American audiences.

"It was one of those really unfortunate things that happened to me there," Knox explained.

"I guess you don't know how you're going to react until it happens. I decided to look on the funny side rather than the depressing side, which I guess is a good thing. It will make me stronger.

"I played 71 holes of excellent golf in that tournament. A par on that hole and, I believe, I would have finished second. So I know how well I played. It was just one of those things.

"I probably should have gone to the drop zone after my first shot went into the water. I didn't do that and it cost me a few more. I will learn from that. And I hopefully won't do that again - because it really is a horrible feeling."