Knox’s glorious summer of golf continues at Scottish Open
GULLANE, Scotland (AP) — An 11-hour sleep and a hearty Scottish breakfast sparked the latest impressive round in Russell Knox’s glorious summer of golf, putting him in contention to seal back-to-back wins on the European Tour at the Scottish Open on Saturday.
Knox mastered the windiest conditions of the week over the Gullane links to shoot a 4-under 66 in the third round, leaving him two strokes off surprise leader Jens Dantorb (68) and one behind a six-way tie for second place in the event used as a tune-up for next week’s British Open.
The Scotsman doesn’t want this summer to end. After placing 12th at the U.S. Open last month for his best finish at a major, Knox was runner-up at the French Open and then won the Irish Open last week thanks to consecutive 40-foot birdie putts on the 72nd hole and first playoff hole.
Now, he’s got a great chance to win his home championship, a week before heading to the British Open also in Scotland. There’s also potentially the not-so-small matter of a first appearance at the Ryder Cup in September.
“I’m loving the way I’m swinging and the putts are going in,” Knox said. “I’m just playing with a smile on my face.”
The 49th-ranked Knox said his energy levels were low on Friday following his big weeks in France and Ireland, but he “slept like a king” and enjoyed a “huge breakfast” including his favorite Scottish bread. It clearly did the trick.
On a day when Robert Rock — the overnight leader by two shots on 13 under — plunged down the field after a 76, Knox birdied five of his last 11 holes to find himself tied for eighth place and among the lead groups teeing off late on Sunday because of TV scheduling.
That means he will miss the entire football World Cup final. Knox doesn’t mind.
“Being in contention is more fun,” he said. “It’s a bit of a bummer but I’m here to play golf.”
Rock’s implosion — he shot the worst round of the day, which included a triple-bogey 7 on No. 11 — saw more than half the remaining field race past him.
Dantorp, an unheralded Swede with just one top-10 finish in 61 starts on the European Tour, birdied his final three holes to take the sole lead on 13 under.
Behind him, Matt Fitzpatrick (64), Ryan Fox (63), Marcel Siem (65) and Scott Hend (63) were all among the earlier starters — playing before the wind really started to pick up — to reach 12 under. They were joined by Alexander Bjork (67) and Rickie Fowler (66), who drove 458 yards downwind on the 471-yard par-4 10th hole.
Fowler won the Scottish Open when it was last held at Gullane, in 2015.
“It was a lot more fun to be out there in the wind, and have the course show its teeth,” the American said.
“We’re right where we wanted to be.”
Twenty-six players were within four shots of the lead. Among them is 2008 Masters champion Trevor Immelman, who shot 68 and was on 10 under.
The 38-year-old South African hasn’t had a top-25 finish since January 2014 and has plummeted to No. 1,380 in the rankings.
“I was a lot meaner in my prime,” Immelman said, “and I don’t know if I’ve still got that anymore.”
Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80