Russell Knox is ready to “lay it on the line” as he bids to get over his Ryder Cup disappointment by landing the biggest pay-day ever enjoyed by a Scottish golfer.
The 31-year-old heads into his first Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta in the running for an $11.5 million bonanza that is up for grabs over the next four days. He’d pick up $1.5m for finishing at the head of a 30-man field on Sunday night while achieving that feat would also give him a great chance of claiming the $10m bonus for lifting the overall FedEx Cup title.
In an event with all sorts of scenarios going on, eighth-ranked Knox needs to win the tournament and have Dustin Johnson, the current FedEx Cup leader, finish third or worse, Patrick Reed tie for second or worse and Adam Scott end up second or worse.
“This is a massive deal,” Knox, who plays with world No 4 Jordan Spieth in the opening round, told Golfweek. “I’ve played all year to be at the Tour Championship, and getting here is a huge honour and a huge achievement.”
On what he needs to do, the world No 19, having won twice on the PGA Tour in the last 11 months, added: “It’s pretty realistic. The stars don’t have to align too much in order for me to walk away with the big prize and it might be harder for guys ahead of me not to finish in the top three than me to win the tournament. We know we have to go out and win the tournament, because if we finish second, we have no chance. That’s cool. I know I can stand on the first tee and be like, OK, I’m here. It’s been an amazing year. If I finish dead last, it’s still going to be an amazing year; it’s still going to be an amazing week, so I’m going to enjoy it. This is why I play golf, to play in these massive tournaments, to make a living playing it. I’m thrilled to be here.”
Since being controversially overlooked for one of Darren Clarke’s wild-card selections for next week’s match in Minnesota, Knox has continued to display the dogged determination that put him in the frame for a possible Ryder Cup debut in the first place.
He recorded top-20 finishes in both the Deutsche Bank Championship and BMW Championship and now insists his sole focus is on this week’s event rather than thinking about what might have been when the Hazeltine match gets underway tomorrow week.
“After not being selected, I can’t think of that anymore,” insisted Knox. “It’s freed me up to where I can put everything I’ve got into this week. I can prepare hard here. I can lay it on the line. If I get done this week and I’m just absolutely exhausted and want to fall over, then I can afford to do that knowing that next week I won’t be playing.”
Sixth-ranked Rory McIlroy is the sole member of Europe’s Ryder Cup team in the field, with Paul Casey, who sits fifth, having ruled himself out on this occasion when he decided not to join the European Tour. “That’s going to be... it’s a weird one,” admitted the Englishman when asked if he’d miss being part of next week’s match.