Nov 8th, 2015
Knox Takes WGC-HSBC Title
What a win for the Scot!
Words: Daniel Owen Photography: Getty Images
Russell Knox’ed on the door and walked straight through to collect his first PGA, European, and WGC titles at the WGC-HSBC Champions. His 68 was enough to take a two shot victory over Kevin Kisner, while Danny Willett charged through the leaderboard with a 62 to really heat things up in the Race to Dubai standings.
It’s a real Cinderella story for Knox. Seventh alternate coming into the week, he didn’t know he would be playing until the Friday before the event while playing in Malaysia, and had to scramble to get his Chinese Visa in Time. He didn’t see the course until Wednesday, squeezing in one practice round, with his wife on the bag. Four days later he’s walked away with his first WGC title in his debut WGC event, with a check for $1,400,000, jumped into the top 40 of the world rankings, and has a spot in his first Masters. That’s a good weekend in anyones book.
“I always kind of thought I was going to win a big one for some reason as my first one. I've been close a few times before but this is going to take a long time to sink in.
"It's incredible. I always hoped it was going to happen but you're just never sure. There's just so many unbelievable players on tours all around the world and to win at this stage is a dream come true. I still can't quite believe it.
"Deep down in my bones I felt I was capable of winning. I thought it was going to be maybe another year. But I'm glad it happened now.
"Winning any level is the hardest thing you can do, and especially because I've never won a big one like this. It was tough but I just kept holing putts, and golf is so much easier when that happens."
The Inverness native took five years to reach the PGA Tour, and only real close call came when losing a four man play off at the 2014 Honda Classic.
Having to finish up his third round with the 18th still to play, Knox was the first man out on the course in the morning. But a birdie on his last hole put him into a tie for the lead with Kevin Kisner. From first man out there, Knox was the last man standing, as one by one his competitors dropped away. While Kisner bogied his first hole, Knox birdied his second and third, to open up an early three shot lead on the field.
While Knox held the lead on his own for most of the day, for one brief moment 5 players were tied at the top at 17 under. Brendan Grace was charging, Dustin Johnson was doing his thing, Kisner picked up a couple of birdies, and Danny Willett had finished his round shooting a best of the week 62. Blemish free Willett started the day with four straight birdies.
Johnson can consider himself very unlucky not to have been higher up the leaderboard after a bizarre double bogey on the eighth. Just one back from the lead at the tie, DJ hit a perfect wedge shot that looked like it was going to land with a couple of feet of the flagstick, for a tap in birdie. Instead it hit the pin, and ricocheted into the water hazard. Is Dustin Johnson the unluckiest man in golf? It definitely seems like it. Maybe Paulina Gretzky cancels it out though.
While Knox was pouring in putts from everywhere, and at the right moments, it was Kisner birding the last and taking solo second spot that could prove to be the decisive moment of the week. A share of second would have put Danny Willett to the top of the Race to Dubai rankings.
However with Rory not playing next weeks event in China, Willett could still hold a convincing lead going into the final tournament in two weeks time. We can’t wait to see what happens in Dubai. With his final round of 66 Rory looks to have found some form, especially considering he was ill at the start of the week. A fully fit, in form Rory is virtually unstoppable.