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Russell Knox Wins Irish Open With Remarkable Putting In Playoff

Though the Irish contingent was nowhere to be seen at the business end of the action, the 2018 Irish Open nonetheless saw some compelling drama in the final round.

Scotland’s Russell Knox is the 2018 Irish Open champion, after defeating Ryan Fox in a playoff .

Eric Van Rooyen held a four shot lead going into Sunday after a third round 66. The South African, relative to the rest of the chasing pack, had a collapse though, with a final round 74 being one of the worst among the top fifty in the leaderboard. He ultimately finished on -12, good enough for 4th, but a horrendous missed opportunity so early in his European Tour career.

That allowed Spaniards Jorge Campillo and Jon Rahm to contend, with the duo shooting 65 and 66 respectively. Rahm overcame a triple bogey 7 on the 2nd to finish 4th thanks to some inspired play on the remaining holes yielding seven birdies and an eagle.

Campillo’s -13 total, including an insane eagle on 17 to keep him in it, was just short of the -14 mark reached by both Ryan Fox, who had led the tournament early on, and Russell Knox, a regular on the PGA Tour.

Fox shot a 68, helped by an early eagle on the 4th, while Knox, who was six behind at the start of the day, shot a -6 round of 66, including this remarkable putt on the last to take the clubhouse lead.

A playoff would ensue between Fox and Knox, beginning on the 18th.

On 18, the New Zealander hit a mammoth 364 yard drive, leaving just 74 yards to the pin. Knox was on a down-slope in the first cut of rough. The Scotsman managed to chase it up to the green, but Fox’s approach was much closer by virtue of his easier shot.

Knox once again holed out a giant putt to put severe pressure on Fox, who’s putt hit the right of the cup before rolling through and going off to the left.

It’s Knox’s second win on the European Tour after his 2015 WGC-HSBC Champions victory.

The Irish challenge was never going to materialise, with the nearest contender an entire 13 shots off the lead going into the final round.

The highest of those was host Rory McIlroy, who shot a 71 to finish in the top 30 on -2. While delighted with his game off the tee, even he admitted that his work on and around the greens needs to drastically improve if he is to challenge at Carnoustie later this month.

Shane Lowry is also on -2, with his round of 70 following his disappointing Saturday one of 74, which condemned him to the middle section of the leaderboard. Graeme McDowell and Paul Dunne were two shots further back on level par for the tournament – tied for 40th – with neither player breaking 70 all week.

Simon Thornton brought up the rear with a respectable total of +2, as a weekend pair of 74s derailed his chances of a high finish in Donegal.

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Author: Chris Kelleher

Student whose interests lie in sports ranging from Darts to MMA, with the likes of Golf, Boxing and Soccer in between. Closet wrestling fan and a lover of sports psychology and stiff jabs.