Sports

Lowry and McIlroy Best Of The Irish As Knox Takes Title

Lowry and McIlroy Best Of The Irish As Knox Takes Title

After rallying to win the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in a playoff, Russell Knox is back inside the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in almost a year.

McIlroy expressed delight at the success of this week's Ballyliffin event after the European Tour's decision to bring the tournament to the Donegal venue for the first time.

Knox holed from 40 feet for birdie across the 18th green in regulation to join Fox at the top of the leaderboard, the New Zealander then missing from eight feet for a birdie of his own to win the title.

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.

Knox now has a Rolex Series win to add to his WGC-HSBC Champions crown from 2015 and continues his fine form after finishing in a tie for second at last week's HNA Open de France.

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Knox started the day six shots off the lead and nailed the biggest comeback in tournament history to go one better than his second place in this event in 2016.

On the winning putt in sudden death, he added: "I said to (caddie) James, "well, we've already made this putt". "It's so hard to win tournaments". This means the world to me'.

"It was a little straighter than the other one, but it was tracking on a nice line and for it to go in, I feel bad for Ryan, but I guess it was my time".

"Had one putt been an inch ether way I'd still be out there now or even with the trophy in my hand but well done to Russ, he played some great golf today".

"But I was able to hit a good shot and get on the green, which I was thrilled with".

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The Scot will move back into the world's top 50 as a result of a win which boosts his hopes of a first Ryder Cup appearance in September.

Fox played some brilliant golf over the 72 holes at Ballyliffin after taking the outright lead in day one and being in the mix all week.

Fox shot 68 to Knox's 66, with Jorge Campillo going round in 65 to finish one off the pace at 13 under.

"I thought my chances had slipped on 17 to be honest, failing to make birdie", Knox said.

The overnight leader, South African, Erik Van Rooyen, found the going tough and the pack chipped away at his lead, as he carded a couple of bogeys in his first nine. He closed with a 71 and finished the week on two under par, 12 adrift of Knox and Fox.

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