Overawed Knox ready to bury 'mythical' Woods
Playing alongside his hero, the 'mythical figure' of Tiger Woods who he openly admits he is in awe of – Thursday was never going to be a normal round for Russell Knox.
Yet the home favourite battled hard to keep himself on the edge of contention at Carnoustie and is now playing to win The Open, keen to bury Woods by 20 shots in the process.
Knox had his struggles early in the first round, bogeying the first two holes, and sat at three-over through ten but an eagle at the par-five 14th helped him post a 73 to end at two over – seven shots behind overnight leader Kevin Kisner.
An up and down round saw 14-time major winner Woods – playing at his first Open since 2015 – end level-par and Knox claims the experience was physically affecting his swing.
“I had too much tension in my swing – I just wasn't letting it go as normal,” he explained.
“But I mean, first round with Tiger, obviously I expected to feel a little bit different. I think he's the best golfer of all time. He's definitely the person I looked up to, so getting to play with him is pretty unique.
“I'm not going to lie, I’m in awe of him a little bit. He's a person I've seen on the range in the past and he's almost like a mythical figure.
“I knew it was going to be an uncomfortable round – I was never going to feel like I was out playing with my buddies, just freewheeling it, and that's understandable.
“It’s a major championship, The Open in Scotland, playing with your hero – you're never going to feel like you're just winging it.
“It's cool playing with Tiger but I've got to get over that. I'm here to win, not just enjoy my walk around the course.”
Knox is a man in form – winning the Irish Open and finishing second at the Open de France already this month, as well as coming tied-12th at June’s US Open – and a legitimate contender to lift the Claret Jug on Sunday.
The 33-year-old will look to climb the leaderboard on Friday - when they tee off at 10.20am - and although he and Woods were conversing during their round on Thursday, the Scot isn’t expecting any favours from the three-time Champion Golfer.
“I wanted to chat with him a little bit,” added Knox. “Obviously, Hideki [Matsuyama, the third player in their group] is not the easiest person to talk to with the language barrier.
“So I was like, yeah, I'm out here with Tiger for five hours, might as well talk to him.
“But he wants to beat me – I'm a threat to him. I could make him not win this tournament, so I didn't expect him to help me through the experience or whatever.
“He's trying to bury me by 20 shots, as I'm doing with him.”
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