SCOTTISH golf’s man of the moment, Russell Knox, is set to make his first appearance as a new European Tour member in South Africa in a fortnight’s time.
On the back of his career-changing victory in the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai 11 days ago, the 30-year-old has decided to take up membership of the European circuit for the 2016 campaign. In doing so, he will be eligible for the battle for Ryder Cup spots at Hazeltine next September. “I am excited about taking up European Tour membership in 2016 and look forward to trying to make Darren Clarke’s team,” said Knox.
Unfortunately for him, the points he could have won in China can’t be counted retrospectively, but he’s wasting no time in trying to get in the mix for the nine automatic spots up for grabs. Having been denied in a play-off by Graeme McDowell in a brave bid to make it back-to-back wins in the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in Mexico earlier this week, the Inverness man is currently enjoying a well-deserved break at home in Florida.
But he will be back globe-trotting again in two weeks’ time, when he heads to South Africa to play in the Nedbank Golf Challenge, a limited-field event that carries a $6.5 million prize pot.That will be his final event of the year, with his first two outings in 2016 both set to be in Hawaii – the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and Sony Open back-to-back in January. “Beyond that, he is not sure,” the player’s manager, John Wiler, told The Scotsman.
Under the new membership criteria announced by Keith Pelley, the European Tour chief executive, in Dubai earlier this week, Knox will have to play in five regular events to meet the membership requirement next year. In addition to the Nedbank event, he will definitely be playing in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open and can expect a hero’s welcome at Castle Stuart. Other possible counting appearances on this side of the Atlantic could be the Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match Play at Murcar Links in early August or the Dunhill Links in October.