After holing not one but two lengthy putts on the 18th green at Ballyliffin, Russell Knox earned his first-ever victory in Europe at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.
Knox started the final round six shots off the lead, but the tournament became a free-for-all when Erik Van Rooyen’s four-shot advantage disappeared before the South African made the turn. At one point there was a four-way tie for the lead, one that included both Knox and New Zealand’s Ryan Fox.
But by the time Knox reached the 18th green, Fox was one shot ahead and on the verge of his first career European Tour win. But Knox rolled in a 40-foot birdie putt to close out a 6-under 66 and draw even with Fox at 14 under, then watched as Fox missed a short birdie putt of his own that would have won the tournament outright.
Full-field scores from the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open
Knox then appeared to have an uphill battle in overtime after missing the fairway on the first extra hole, but he quickly turned the tables on Fox by rolling in a nearly identical putt from long range for birdie on the 18th green. When Fox’s effort to match from inside 15 feet lipped out, Knox had his first worldwide win since the 2016 Travelers Championship and became the first Scot to win the Irish Open since Colin Montgomerie in 2001.
Prior to this week, his lone European Tour win came when he captured the 2015 WGC-HSBC Champions in China.
The victory caps a recent run of form for Knox, who plays primarily on the PGA Tour and barely missed out on a spot on the 2016 European Ryder Cup team. He had fallen to No. 137 in the world rankings as recently as last month, but his victory comes after a T-2 finish last week at the HNA French Open which qualified him for The Open, and he is now expected to crack the top 50 when the new world rankings are published.