Russell Knox halted his slide down the world rankings by claiming a top-ten finish in the Sony Open, which was won at the sixth extra hole by Patton Kizzire in a play-off against fellow American James Hahn.
Helped by becoming the first Scot to win a WGC at the end of 2015 and then adding a PGA Tour victory the following year, Knox was sitting 18th in the global standings after the same event in Hawaii 12 months ago but had dropped to 77th at the end of last year then slipped three more spots a week ago.
But the 32-year-old is back up to 77th after carding four rounds in 60s for a 13-under-par 267 total at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, raising hopes that he can climb back into the top 50 in time to secure an invitation for The Masters in the first week in April.
Kizzire, a 31-year-old from Alabama, became the first multiple winner on this season’s wraparound PGA schedule when following up his victory in the OHL Classic in Mexico in November by outlasting Hahn after the pair had tied on 17 under, a shot ahead of Tom Hoge in an event dominated by Americans.
Meanwhile, Paul Lawrie’s hopes of making his European Tour return in this week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship have improved since the 49-year-old arrived in the United Arab Emirates on Saturday night.
Lawrie, who hasn’t played on the circuit since being forced to withdraw from the Dunhill Links in October due to a foot problem that led him to pay a visit to a specialist late last year, was fourth reserve when he landed in Abu Dhabi but is now first on the standby list for the $3 million event.
Teeing up on Thursday would be a big boost for the 1999 Open champion, particularly as he isn’t even close at the moment to getting into the second leg of the desert double-header next week.