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November 8, 2015

Russell Knox

Shanghai, China

CHRIS REIMER: We want to welcome and congratulate our 2015 World Golf Championships - HSBC Champions Champion, Russell Knox.

Russell it was a week of firsts: Your first trip to Asia after Malaysia last week, your first World Golf Championships ever, and your first win and you're the first player to ever win a World Golf Championships in their debut in the series.

If you could, just talk about what it means to get all of those firsts under your belt.

RUSSELL KNOX: I mean, winning any professional tournament is a massive accomplishment, and you're never quite sure if you're ever going to do it because there's so many incredible players throughout the world, especially at tournaments like this with such an elite field. To come and be on top this week is a dream come true, and I still can't quite believe I'm here.

But I always kind of joked with my coach that my first win would be a big one, and this is pretty big. So I'm over the moon.

CHRIS REIMER: For those that had not heard the story, ten or 12 days ago you didn't think you would be in this event. Talk about getting a word that you had received a spot at the HSBC Champions and everything that went into getting here. I know your wife played a role in making sure you could get the paperwork done.

RUSSELL KNOX: Yeah, I owe my wife everything for this. Before that, going back even a couple of weeks before, Kirsten Burgess from the PGA TOUR called me and said, "You might want to sign up," because I had not committed to the tournament, just because I thought I had no chance of getting in the field with my finish in the FedEx last season. So I thank her very much for even committing me to the tournament.

Then when I did find out on Thursday last week in Malaysia, my wife frantically had to fill out all the paperwork for myself and my caddie, Bradley. And when we played on Friday, she was at the Chinese Embassy all day in touch with my agent from IMG getting everything sorted, the paperwork.

It was extremely hectic on her behalf, and she's a superstar and she's the reason I guess I'm sitting here right now.

Q. You seemed to be fairly calm out there; were you? And how difficult was that with Dustin and Jordan and all these guys who have seen it, done it, chasing you around?
RUSSELL KNOX: I was quite calm, actually, way more than normal to be honest. But I wasn't. At the same time, it was the most nerve-wracking thing I've ever done. I tried not to watch Dustin play, especially the front nine, just because we were in two different worlds. He's hitting it 50,60 past me off the tee.

So I just tried to concentrate on my own game. I think it was an advantage playing with Kevin Kisner, also, because our games are so similar, so I could focus on myself and Kevin's game.

Yeah, it was pretty unbelievable.

Q. How much is Mike Flemming in your mind now that you've achieved something like this?
RUSSELL KNOX: Yeah, I thought about him throughout the day to be honest. I thought about him on the 18th when I had to tap-in to win, and my eyes started tearing up. I probably will now. But yeah, I mean, I owe him everything. He was my coach for eight years, and he passed away a couple years ago. He's been my inspiration and he taught me everything I know. It finally paid off. (Applause).

Q. What was that feeling like watching the putt track and go in on 16, which would give you a three-shot margin going in?
RUSSELL KNOX: Yeah, I knew that putt was going to be huge, because 17 was no gimmie today. But yeah, when I hit that putt and it was tracking, I was over the moon. Kevin still had a pretty makeable putt, which I expected him to make, but that putt was definitely big.

I holed a lot of putts this week and today. Normally my putting is horrendous (laughs). But this week has been incredible. I only needed to putt good one week in order to lift a trophy, and I think it's been three years since I putted like this when I won a Web.com event. So I'll take that every three years, playing well to win a tournament (laughing).

Q. Yesterday you make a decision to play the last hole early this morning. How did you come up with this decision? And after you finished hole 18 early this morning, it took you about three hours before you resumed your play for the final game. What kind of adjustment did you make? What did you do? Can you share with us?
RUSSELL KNOX: Yeah, it was a great decision not to play the 18th yesterday. I was starting to get a little tight. I wasn't swinging as well as I was earlier in the round. I mean, it was too dark. I still can't quite believe Kevin and Branden finished the hole because when they hit their tee shots, they couldn't even see where the ball went.

My caddie was like, "No, you're not playing." I was like, okay. (Laughter) that was a good decision.

Yeah, I had to come back earlier in this morning, 7.45 to play. I normally sleep incredibly well, but last night for some reason, because I had not finished the round, I was quite nervous and just went over and over how to play the 18th in my head.

I looked at my yardage book and I thought, okay, if I get it to the 100-yard marker in two, I'll have 92 yards to the pin. So I practiced that on the range over and over and over. And luckily, I had 92 yards to the pin and I hit it pretty close and made the putt.

So I was thrilled, and I think that was a huge momentum going into the last round, because after that, for some reason, I was way more calm and wasn't as nervous.

And just to follow up, I went back to the hotel during my couple hours and ate my second breakfast. (Laughter).

Q. A lot of Scots seem to be enjoying your win today, including your sister, I gather. Could you just tell us your latest thoughts, if you've had time for them, about joining The European Tour at some point and The Ryder Cup?
RUSSELL KNOX: I knew someone was going to ask these difficult questions (laughter). To be honest, I haven't thought about it yet. I mean, obviously it's going to be a goal of mine to make the European Ryder Cup Team, and this obviously springboards me to a place where -- I mean, obviously yesterday I was nowhere near.

I have no idea where I stand or making the team or if -- what I need to do. But I look forward to finding out and giving it a run, that's for sure.

Q. Would you give a brief synopsis on how a lad from Inverness winds up at Jacksonville University, and when you got there, what your biggest dreams were in golf, and is there a difference between big dreams and realistic dreams?
RUSSELL KNOX: Yeah, I joined a recruiting agency when I still lived in Scotland and they got in touch with schools in the US on my behalf. I had a small list to choose from. And having no idea how big some of the schools were or how small some of the schools were, how good their teams were, how bad their teams were; so I started narrowing it down. I was like: Cold, out; cold, out. Florida, ooohhh (laughter). You grow up in Scotland, you're cold pretty much your whole life (laughter). So going to a school where the sun shines was my No. 1 priority.

So my dad and I flew over for our visit and got to meet my coach, Mike Flemming, and if anyone that had a chance to meet him, he was the most colourful character in the world and he just wowed me over with his crazy stories, and I knew that it was the perfect match for me.

Yeah, I mean, I didn't realize how bad a golfer I was when I came to the U.S. What I mean by that was if I went to a bigger school, University of Florida or University of Georgia or somewhere that had a great golf programme, I would have been completely overwhelmed and devastated how good other players were in this country, in the US.

Going to a small school like Jacksonville University where I was the No. 1 and No. 2 player allowed me to play every tournament. The last time I checked, if you're not playing in tournaments, you're not improving. It allowed me to play all four years, and it was the best decision I've ever made to go there, and I wouldn't change it for anything.

I don't know if I ever would have guessed I would have been on the PGA TOUR winning a huge tournament like this, but for some bizarre reason, ever since I was a kid, I always felt in my bones that I was going to be a professional. At first I wanted to be a football player, soccer player, but I made a great decision to play golf. I'm, yeah, speechless.

Q. You could have stayed home in Scotland and gone the route that a lot of players do, which is to stay there and don't come to the U.S. and play in college. Why did you decide the college route versus just staying home in Scotland?
RUSSELL KNOX: I always wanted to come to the U.S. to play in college. I think I kind of decided when I was 15 I wanted to do that.

I mean, there's a lot of guys that I grew up with some Scotland that didn't come to the U.S. to play golf in college. And they haven't made it as on The European Tour as much as they could have I think.

My age group, for some reason, didn't really achieve, and I don't know why that is. I think if some of the players would have come to the U.S. and played in college, they would have become better players. I don't know why Scottish golf isn't better than it is. It should be. I mean, their amateur systems are great and coaching's great. But for some reason, there just haven't been as many players to win, especially from my kind of age.

But I would recommend anyone going to the U.S. to college, because the system is incredible. You're playing against the best players, learning how to travel and just growing up as a person, was the best thing I ever did.

Q. I think at the turn, you were tied for the lead with Fisher and Grace and kisser in I think at 17-under, or Willett -- or Willett didn't get to 17, was he? Okay. You birdied 10 and 11. First of all, were you aware of the fact that you were tied at that point? And secondly how much do you think that took the wind out of those guys's sails and how much did that propel you going forward?
RUSSELL KNOX: Yeah, I made bogey on 9, which I wasn't thrilled about. But I walked off the green saying to my caddie, I was like, we're tied for the lead, nine holes to go, what a great position to be in.

I've been working hard on my attitude, and I got up there on 10 and hit a great tee shot, and making birdie on 10 and 11 was obviously huge for me. I mean, I just kept wanting to make birdies, kept trying to push ahead.

20-under was my goal at the start of the day and I knew that if I got to 20, it was going to be tough to beat. So birdieing 10,11, was huge for me.

Q. Could you tell us what was the height of your amateur career in Scotland?
RUSSELL KNOX: Oh, this might be hard. There wasn't many highlights. I think I finished third in the Scottish Under 21 Championship or something. I wasn't very good. I think I Top-10'ed in the Scottish Amateur Stroke Play one year at Royal Aberdeen; Richie Ramsay won the tournament. And that was kind of the turning point for me, because I was still playing football at the time. And when I Top-10'ed there, I was like, I think I can do this.

And I think the next week was the Under 21 where I finished tied. But I was no means a junior superstar at golf. I really improved when I came to college and after when I played mini-tours forever.

CHRIS REIMER: Congratulations, Russell.

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