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July 8, 2018

Russell Knox

Ballyliffin, Republic of Ireland

NEIL AHERN: Ladies and gentlemen, I'm delighted to welcome to the room, 2018 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Champion, Russell Knox.

Russell, I think we're all trying to catch our breath here after finish. Can you tell us your emotions right now?

RUSSELL KNOX: I thought my chances had slipped on 17 to be honest, failing to make birdie. I knew Foxy had bombed 1-down there. I mean, I knew my only chance was to birdie 18, and I just got it cutting on the wind into the rough and I thought, oh, no, I'm going to be doomed over there.

But I was able to hit a good shot and get on the green, which I was thrilled with. Then I just blacked out to be honest. I stood over the putt. I read the putt and I was like, just don't aim. Like just react. I mean, I pured the putt. I remember thinking as soon as I hit it, I was like, oh, I've hit it a bit firm, and it just started tracking and it dropped, unbelievable.

That's why you play golf, to hole a putt like that on the last hole. The adrenaline just comes out and I mean, it's the best feeling in the world to be honest.

NEIL AHERN: Your record in this tournament now reads second place, first place. What is it about Ireland and the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open that you enjoy so much?

RUSSELL KNOX: Must be the Guinness I guess. Obviously this is a massive tournament. I mean, The K Club and Ballyliffin, polar opposites, obviously. Both terrific venues. I don't know, I just get lucky. This is my week, this time of year, to play good golf, I guess.

Yeah, lucky to be my time.

Q. How far would you estimate the two birdie putts were, and were they as close as they looked on TV?
RUSSELL KNOX: Yeah, I think they were about -- I was a pace away from where I was, about four feet. I don't know how long it was. Maybe 30 feet.

Q. 40 if you want --
RUSSELL KNOX: 50, it was huge -- over a huge hill (laughing). It was obviously a putt that you're going to miss way more times than you make, and for me to have made it twice in a row, I'm very lucky to be sitting here.

Q. And this has huge implications in terms of money, Ryder Cup points, World Ranking points. You've only just won, but what can this do for you looking ahead to some big events this summer and The Ryder Cup itself?
RUSSELL KNOX: Yeah, I mean, I wasn't in a great spot, I guess, before last week when it came to World Ranking, Ryder Cup points, FedExCup, Race to Dubai, all of that stuff.

To play well last week in France was big. I mean, on a tough golf course, obviously Ryder Cup venue, helped, too. To play well there, my confidence was snowballing. I had been playing well for a couple months now but just was lacking that big finish.

Last week it was nice to play really good on Sunday and be up there. I never really thought I was going to win it, which obviously I didn't, but this week, starting out, Sunday here, I knew I had a chance. I was playing well the first few holes. I made great swings and I was like, I've got a chance today. Obviously the putts went in and other players played the way they did, and my time.

But going forward, Ryder Cup-wise, still a long way away. To make that team, obviously you have to win tournaments. Great start, obviously, this week. Last week, as well. But I mean, I fully expect -- this is not good enough. I need to hammer down and I'm going to have to make that team in order to go to France.

Q. You had a brilliant year in 2016 but things went a bit quiet for you then. Would you say you've been building a bit of form, tied second last week, a win here today; what's been the difference?
RUSSELL KNOX: Golf's hard. I got up to 18 in the world. I saw how good a place that was. I think I tried to get better too quickly, and I mean, I've kind of preached to myself and younger players my whole career that you just kind of get better slowly without almost forcing it without trying to get better.

You just naturally evolve as a golfer. I think I got to the point where I was really close to being right where I wanted to be, Top-10 in the world, and I just pushed too hard and I got worse.

So I don't know, it's just hard. Once you lose your confidence, which I did a little bit, and I was tinkering with equipment, I just didn't quite get it right. But I knew starting this year, I'd played good golf and I knew that eventually, something about was going to happen.

Like I said, the last couple months have been really good. Just not quite finishing off and quite holing the putts and hitting the shot at the right time. These last two weeks, it's been really good.

Q. How disappointed were you not to get that Ryder Cup wildcard the last time, and how determined does that make you not to have to rely on a wildcard this time? You obviously have a couple big events coming up?
RUSSELL KNOX: It was obviously disappointing not to make the team being so close, but that's gone now. That's in the past.

I mean, my job is to focus on trying to qualify for the team this year. Like I say, of course it's disappointing, but that's just the way the cookie crumbled for me. I've got to -- head down, and just play my best, and if I'm one of those Top-12 guys come end of qualification, then would love to be there.

Q. At what stage did you include The Irish Open in your schedule? Were you always going to play four in a row or did you at any stage think you'll take a break in the middle?
RUSSELL KNOX: I think after I didn't play in the desert at the start of the year, playing the French, Irish, Scottish, was always on my schedule. Having played well in this tournament in 2016 -- and then obviously I'm going to play Scotland. And France just seemed like a good fit being a Ryder Cup venue.

But I've played a lot of golf. I've played -- this is four in a row and I had a week off and I played three before that. So I mean, I'm pushing it to the limits here, especially next week and then qualifying for The Open was obviously a huge bonus.

So I think I'll play nine out of ten weeks, and nobody likes to do that, but when you're playing well, I mean, it's much easier for sure because you have adrenaline, you're getting through it and I've been playing good. It's my job; why not play? I'm enjoying it.

Q. Have you been working on your apple-throwing techniques since earlier in the week?
RUSSELL KNOX: I went for a sandwich snack the last two days just to avoid the potential embarrassment. But I did throw the golf ball beautifully into the stands after the playoff there.

But yeah, the apple incident, I mean, I've just got take it on the chin. There's no excuses. No one's going to care.

But the best part of the story was I made the putt afterwards. But of course, the media doesn't ever show that.

Q. What's your sort of experiences of Carnoustie, looking ahead to The Open? Have you had much chance to play it and what are your thoughts on the course?
RUSSELL KNOX: I haven't played there too much to be honest. Years ago, I think I played a Scottish Amateur, Scottish Boys or something like that. So I probably only played it maybe two or three times. Honestly, I've watched it on TV many times, so I know it's a beast.

Obviously great to make an Open that's being held in Scotland. Obviously that's a huge goal for Scottish players to play in their own country.

But it's obviously one of the best courses in the world, and to hold an Open, and me to be playing, very happy. Might as well go try and win there.

Q. Paul Lawrie won back in '99. What are your chances and your excitement level about the chance of doing the same?
RUSSELL KNOX: Yeah, I mean, I learned a long time ago, I won a Web.com event 2011, I didn't truly realise what had happened at the time, like the magnitude of winning a golf tournament, how hard it is.

So right now I'm enjoying winning this trophy right here, and The Scottish Open is going to be an amazing week. But if I go on and struggle the next two weeks, I mean, I'm enjoying this victory. This is a sweet one. I'm going to really enjoy this moment and the next two weeks.

But you never know. I mean, the field -- I've beaten everyone before that's in the field. It can happen. I'm going to try my best, and you never know, do you. It's a weird game.

Q. Massive atmosphere around the 18th, and when you teed off in the playoff on the 18th again, what was going through your mind?
RUSSELL KNOX: Hopefully hit a better tee shot than I hit on the last hole, the 72nd hole. I was very relaxed. I mean, Ryan Fox, I would say he's a friend of mine, he's a very nice human being. He's played good golf.

So we were chatting away, and I mean, my coach always used to tell me, he's like, if you don't win, second is the next best position to finish, so you kind of have that comfort of, you know what, if it doesn't quite happen, it's still an amazing tournament. You're going to get a nice cheque, loads of World Ranking points, Race to Dubai points, and life's okay.

So I just kind of went in it with that attitude, and obviously to win, dream come true.

Q. I'm sure you couldn't believe that you did a similar thing twice?
RUSSELL KNOX: Yeah, it's hard enough to hole a putt like that once, and twice, obviously fortunate. I kept telling myself, I mean, why not? I mean, these things happen. People hole putts to win tournaments. I've done it before in the US on the last hole, 12 feet. This one was just a little longer. Made it nicer.

Q. Just on the putting. Spent a week asking an Irish guy about his putting, and I'm sure he gets fed up with that. Just talk about the last two, you didn't aim -- could you explain it again?
RUSSELL KNOX: I guess it's difficult, but I mean, I'm -- putting's difficult. Everyone that plays golf for a living or plays for fun, knows how hard it is to get that ball into the hole from even three feet.

So I mean, when you're -- it's easier when you're in the moment like that and you've got the buzz and you've got the adrenaline. When you don't have that, you start thinking more about your technique or like a spot on the green where you're aiming at.

But when you're aiming it like that in the zone or whatever you want to call it, you're just reacting. You're just visualising; the ball has to roll in there. I was just like, you know, what don't try and do anything. Just get over it and just let it go and if it goes five feet by or misses by five feet, who cares. Just enjoy, enjoy the putt. Enjoy how you feel over it, enjoy the way the ball comes off the face, and I did that.

I hit the purest putt of my life, like it came off and I just remember thinking, oohh, that felt good. I look up and it's tracking and I was like, this thing's going in. And I guess the rest is history.

Q. You mentioned obviously Ryan being a friend. Is there anything you can say to somebody after doing that to him twice?
RUSSELL KNOX: Yeah, I mean, the putt that Ryan hit on the last in the playoff was an excellent putt, too. Definitely, with three or four feet to go, I was like, this is in, here we go back to 18. For it to lip-out, that's just bad luck. That's luck for me and bad luck for him.

But his time will come. He's flushing it. He hammers it, probably the longest player in professional golf maybe. I wouldn't be surprised if he was to win very shortly.

NEIL AHERN: Many congratulations, Russell, and thank you.

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