Russell Knox dreaming of home Open glory after excelling at Gullane
The Scot is one shot behind leader Jens Dantorp going into the final round.
Russell Knox admits it would be a “dream come true” to win the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open and secure back-to-back victories on the European Tour.
Six days after beating Ryan Fox in a play-off to win the Irish Open, Knox heads into the final round at Gullane just two shots behind surprise leader Jens Dantorp.
The Swede birdied the last three holes to finish 13 under par and edge a shot ahead of Fox, Rickie Fowler, Matt Fitzpatrick, Scott Hend, Marcel Siem and Alexander Bjork.
England’s Tyrrell Hatton and Aaron Rai share eighth place with Knox on 11 under, with the top 26 players separated by just four shots.
“Winning your home Open is a massive goal. Other than winning a major, this is right up there with the tournament you really want to win the most,” said Knox, who was raised in Inverness but attended Jacksonville University and stayed in Florida after graduating.
“I watched Rory [McIlroy] do it a couple of years ago in Ireland and I remember it well. The crowd were not rooting against me by any means but as I birdied 15 and went one ahead that was when the crowd thought ‘Oh no, Rory might not win.’
“Then he went on to hit the best shot he’s ever hit (to set up an eagle on the 72nd hole) and that was that.”
Knox had to settle for a tie for second on that occasion but a victory at Gullane on Sunday would take his earnings to more than £2million in the last three weeks and make him a near-certainty for a Ryder Cup debut in September.
“I was very tired on Saturday but slept like a king last night and tomorrow the adrenaline will be pumping so I will be fine,” added the 33-year-old, who was controversially overlooked for a wild card by captain Darren Clarke in 2016.
That was despite being ranked 20th in the world, higher than seven members of the European side which went on to lose at Hazeltine.
“Winning is fun and I still have not come down from winning in Ireland. Confidence snowballs in a good and bad way and obviously I’m on a good wave at the moment. Hopefully I can keep riding it.”
Fowler, who won this event the last time it was staged at Gullane in 2015, was one over par after 10 holes of a windswept third round, but birdied the 11th, 15th and 16th to remain firmly in contention.
“Tomorrow is going to be tough,” Fowler said. “We’ve got a pretty jam-packed leaderboard with a lot of guys within a few shots of the lead. Someone is going to have to go out and earn it.”
Former major champions Justin Rose and Trevor Immelman are both three shots off the pace, although 2008 Masters winner Immelman, who is currently ranked 1,380th after years of injury problems, admits he may now lack the killer instinct.
“I was a lot meaner in my prime,” the 38-year-old said. “I don’t know if I have that any more. I’ve been debating that with my wife over the last few years, wondering if I still have that streak in me that I think most great athletes have.
“They have that moment where they can really knuckle down and wipe out the opposition, so to speak. I don’t know if I’ve got all of that left in there, but it sure was fun to get out there and feel like I was in the thick of it.”
England’s Robert Rock, who enjoyed a two-shot overnight lead, struggled to a 76 to fall six shots off the pace.