Congratulations to former FirstPoint USA golf scholarship recipient, Russel Knox, who tied 45th at the U.S Open Golf Championship this weekend!
Knox, who will turn 28 later this month and is ranked 398th in the world, was tied for fourth on the US Open leaderboard by the time he had completed his delayed first round at Merion on Friday morning.
A score of 69 bettered the early efforts by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy and was proof of the Scot's continuing progress. By the end of round two Knox's aggregate had slipped to four over par but he is still comfortably in the weekend field. Which is more than can be said for some more famous names – Graeme McDowell, Francesco Molinari, Angel Cabrera and Darren Clarke among them.
"It was as tough a course as I've ever played," Knox said. "This morning I played nice and holed some nice putts and this afternoon I holed nothing. Then once some bad things happen, you get in the rough with a bad lie and you three-putt. I'm trying hard not to be mad at myself for shooting five over because I feel like I played pretty good.
"I feel like I have been playing well and could have a good week at any moment. Hopefully it can be this weekend. Let's be honest, making the cut was the main thing."
This hardly hints at trepidation from a player who booked a place in this event by taking part in sectional qualifying in Maryland. "It is mayhem here," he said. "Especially with the weather and the transportation and whatnot, I mean, it's unbelievable. It's as good as I would have ever hoped."
Knox was a promising junior golfer at the Scottish Highland club of Nairn Dunbar before transferring his membership to nearby Inverness, his home town, when still a teenager.
At that stage the only potential hindrance to Knox's development seemed a diminutive frame which limited his ability to find distance from the tee. What he had then, as remains the case now, is a terrific level of accuracy both with driving and approach shots. Last year his greens in regulation level was the fourth best on the PGA Tour.
The golfer has always stressed that he considers himself "100% Scottish" but, as the son of an American father and Scottish mother, attended Jacksonville University and relocated permanently after his family did likewise.
Despite struggling to make a meaningful impact on big amateur events in the United Kingdom, he was part of Scotland's team in the 2006 European Youths Championship. Knox has referenced that event, and the appreciation of just what level he had to reach briskly, as a crucial point in his career. Five years later he was more than holding his own on the Nationwide Tour.
"I miss Scotland and the UK obviously but it is easy to live in Jacksonville," Knox said. "My parents live here in Jacksonville also and my sister is in Glasgow.
"I've got a good crowd with me this week – my parents, my coach and a few people supporting me, so it is nice."
The former Culloden Academy pupil did not retain his full PGA Tour card for 2013 but a glance towards his 2012 season demonstrates the financial attraction of the United States to European golfers, even at his level.
Knox claimed $512,584 (£327,000) in prize money last year, largely by virtue of two top-10 finishes and making the cut in more than half of his 23 events. "I didn't get down on myself because, if you do, you can train-wreck and end up missing the cut, so I'm proud of myself," Knox said. And so he should be.
C/O - The Guardian
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