Ryder Cup contender Russell Knox has become just the fourth Scottish golfer to break into the world’s top 20 and first to reach those dizzy heights in nearly a decade.
The 31-year-old jumped eight places to 18th by winning the Travelers Championship at Cromwell in Connecticut on Sunday, joining Sandy Lyle, Sam Torrance and Colin Montgomerie in breaking into the game’s elite.
Montgomerie was the most recent Scot to occupy a top-20 ranking back in March 2007, with Torrance last being there in May 1996, exactly six years after Lyle was that high in the rankings.
Knox achieved the feat by recording his second PGA Tour triumph inside 10 months, having become the first Scot to win a World Golf Championship with victory in the HSBC Champions in Shanghai last November.
That triumph didn’t earn him any points the Ryder Cup qualifying race as he wasn’t a European Tour member at the time, but his latest victory has certainly put him in the frame for Darren Clarke’e 12-strong side for Hazeltine at the end of next month.
He’s moved to tenth on Europe’s world points list, just 6.6 points behind Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick in the battle for nine automatic spots in the European line-up, which will be completed by three captain’s picks.
Knox will need to rely on one of those unless he decides to add another tournament, which would likely be next week’s Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina, to his schedule because he’s not due to play in another counting event.
“I knew by winning this tournament, it’s put Darren Clarke in a very difficult position not to pick me. I think,” said the Invernesian as he celebrated his timely triumph. “But it’s his decision. If I don’t make the team, I can’t think I’m worthy of a pick. He can pick whoever he wants, and that’s the luxury of it.
“If I make the top nine, then I deserve to be on the team. If I’m No 10, he can quite happily pass on me, and that’s just the way it is.”
Knox would already have secured automatic qualification if he’d secured points for that win in China, but it wasn’t until after that he took up European Tour membership, which is a requirement to be eligible for the Ryder Cup.
“I hope I’m on the team. I would love to be there. It would be a huge honour. Maybe holing nice putts like that helps,” he added of a 12-footer at the last that secred victory.
Clarke took to Twitter to congratulate Knox, writing: “Well done @rooknox impressive today!!”