Knox: “Tiger effect” driving PGA Tour

May 2, 2017 GMT

HARTFORD - Russell Knox called it the “Tiger Effect.”

A quick check of the 2017 FedEx Cup standings shows one telling statistic: 11 of the top 20 players are in their 20’s. Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth are both 23, John Rham is just 22, Brooks Koepka and Mackenzie Hughes are 26 and Rickie Fowler is 28, just to name a few.

And the key reason why all these young guns are playing - and winning - on the PGA Tour, according to Knox, is because of Woods.

“I mean, everyone now, grew up watching Tiger Woods. The reason why I play golf is because of Tiger Woods,” Knox said Tuesday morning at a Travelers Championship breakfast to start the countdown to the 2017 tournament, set for June 21-25. “He made everyone so good. They practice more, they eat better, they work out more, I mean, it’s amazing … coaches, so now all these guys in their 20’s, they’re ready to go as soon as they come out of college. It’s fun to watch. The Tour has gotten so much younger over the last few years and it’s just going to continue to be that way.”

Along with all the 20-somethings that are taking over the Tour, there’s a new commissioner, Jay Monahan, taking over for the now-retired Tim Finchem, and Knox feels that Monahan will bring even more positives to the Tour.

“He’s a great person, of course, so was Tim (Finchem). I’ve gotten to know him a little bit, he’s younger, I think he’s going to connect more with the players on a more personal level,” Knox said. “(Monahan) is in a great position, the Tour’s extremely healthy. I don’t think he needs to make any massive changes, Tim has left everything in such a healthy position.”

One change that Knox would like to see is a more of an “off-season.” With the Tour basically playing 50 weeks a year, there’s little time to take vacation, if at all.

“We play an awful lot of golf,” he said. “I think everyone would like a little off-season.”

Knox would also like to see some new rules, especially for amateurs.

“I do think there should be different rules for amateurs and professionals,” he said. “There shouldn’t be out of bounds for amateurs, you should be able to just drop where the ball went out of bounds, stuff like that. The rules have to be different because it’s a different game for professionals than it is for amateurs.”

Along with that, Knox would like to see more players interact with fans, when time allows, to continue to sell the sport, much like the way the late Arnold Palmer did.

“I always try to give kids golf balls on the course,” Knox said. “When I was younger, Sergio Garcia gave me a golf ball and I’ll never forget that. I was at the (1999) Open Championship at Carnuostie … he must have been a teenager (Garcia was 19), so I must have been 13 or 14, so I always try to give balls or if I’m down on Sunday, I’ll sign hats for people because I know I would have loved that. I try to do the little things like that to help.”

With the Travelers Championship less than two months away. Knox is looking forward to returning to the Tournament Players Club River Highlands and defending his second PGA Tour win.

“I’m very excited to be back here, it’s going to bring back a lot of great memories, being able to defend a tournament,” Knox said. “I’ve only done that one time and I felt like I was an inch taller that week, chest out and all that, walking around. I’m looking forward to coming back in June and trying to defend. It’s one of my favorite courses, so I have good feelings and great memories.”

And going against Rory McIlory.

“I’m looking forward to beating him,” he said with a smile. “It’s great, it shows the level of commitment of the tournament. They’ve added so much … the (driving) range, they’ve made improvements to the course. I mean, everything has improved. Getting Rory to come, it’s massive and I’m looking forward to trying to beat him.”