Rory McIlroy: Learning from previous mistakes ahead of The Open

Rory McIlroy: Learning from previous mistakes ahead of The Open

SCOTLAND'S Russell Knox holed a huge putt on the first hole of a playoff to defeat New Zealand's Ryan Fox and claim the Irish Open in dramatic fashion.

McIlroy expressed delight at the success of this week's Ballyliffin event after the European Tour's decision to bring the tournament to the Donegal venue for the first time.

He almost managed it - a booming drive and delicate approach left Fox needing to hole an eight-footer to win his first title on the European Tour, but past the right edge it skimmed, leaving Fox stunned, and giving Knox a second chance as the pair returned to the 18th hole for a playoff.

Knox did well to find the green with his second from an awkward lie at the first extra hole in a sudden-death play-off before converting an nearly identical putt.

Knox now has a Rolex Series win to add to his WGC-HSBC Champions crown from 2015 and continues his fine form after finishing in a tie for second at last week's HNA Open de France.

"I said to James (caddie James Williams): 'Well, we've already made this putt so it can't be too hard'". "These things happen. People hole putts to win tournaments".

"I feel alright. I had two great putts on 18, one grazed the edge and one came back at me, so I'm happy - I hit the shots I wanted to down the stretch, felt comfortable out there, was close", he said. "He played some great golf today". He will now head to Carnoustie full of confidence and has thrown his hat in the ring for a place in Europe's Ryder Cup team.

"I was able to hit a good shot and get on the green, which I was thrilled with", Knox said of the putt.

"I thought my chances had slipped on 17 to be honest, failing to make birdie", Knox said.

Knox said at the presentation ceremony: "It's why I play golf, all the practice, all the misses, all the bad moments are taken care of with putts like that".

The other two places for Carnoustie on offer to top 10 finishers not already qualified went to Andy Sullivan of England and South African Zander Lombard.

The big Basque came back from a triple bogey seven at the second after driving out of bounds to post a sensational 66 and share fourth with Erik van Rooyen, who shot 74, which left him just two shots outside the play-off on 12-under par.

Fox once again was the closer of the two, but 40 feet seemed to be Knox's distance as he drained his for birdie, and Fox's putt horse-shoed around the hole.