Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Knox socks it to Fox with box-office Irish Open finish

Knox socks it to Fox with box-office Irish Open finish

Fox has lost a playoff to Scotland's Russell Knox at the Irish Open, missing an eight-foot putt to win the title and then having to watch on as Knox sunk two miraculous putts - the first to force a playoff, and the second to win it.

It was an epic end to a hugely successful event that attracted 94,239 fans over five days - 27,055 yesterday - making it bigger than the preceding Irish Opens at The K Club and Portstewart.

He began the day six shots off the lead but closed with a six-under 66, holing an outrageous 40-footer on the final green to set the target at 14-under, before holing a almost identical putt to break Fox's heart in sudden death.

World number 87 Knox, 33, won by holing a 40-foot birdie after knocking in an nearly identical putt to card a six-under 66 and force the extra hole.

Rory McIlroy has vowed not to repeat the mistakes of his US Open campaign as he seeks a first major title since 2014 in next week's Open Championship at Carnoustie.

"I said to James (caddie James Williams): 'Well, we've already made this putt so it can't be too hard'". "These things happen. People hole putts to win tournaments".

"I'll just treat it like any other event", McIlroy said. "I feel bad for Ryan but I guess it was my time".

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In the four-and-a-half years since Riyad signed for the Foxes, he has played his way into the hearts of all Leicester City supporters.

"It's been an eye-opener to see how much goes into running a golf tournament and it's been great for me, especially for the future", McIlroy added. "I hit the shots I wanted to down the stretch, I felt comfortable out there and it was close".

Defending champion Jon Rahm was also in the mix, playing brilliantly to come back from a triple bogey seven early in his round to post a six under 66, enough to finish in T4 with van Rooyen.

South Africa's Erik van Rooyen began the day with a four-shot lead but struggled to a 74 to finish alongside Rahm on 12 under.

Not wanting to miss out, Knox hit a monster birdie to take a share of the four way lead.

Fox, along with England's Andy Sullivan and South African Zander Lombard, had the consolation of clinching an Open Championship spot for the three leading non-exempt top-10 finishers at Ballyliffin. But he hit a final-round 66 and Fox a 68 to reach 14 under par, one ahead of Spain's Jorge Campillo.

"I mean, obviously, to make a putt like that, it's a dream come true, on the last hole to win", said Knox. "The putting got me in this last couple of weeks. Had one putt been an inch either way I'd still be out there now or even with the trophy in my hand but well done to Russell, he played some great golf".

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