Russell knocks in identical putts to claim Irish Open
With seven more players qualified, the field for The 147th Open is starting to take shape after another thrilling weekend of golf on both the European and PGA Tours respectively.
Russell Knox and Kevin Na both lifted trophies, a former Champion Golfer found his range and the fight for a place at Carnoustie was red-hot on both sides of the Atlantic.
With just a week to go until The Open, players across the world are tuning their game for Carnoustie and crowds at both the Irish Open and Greenbrier Classic were rewarded in the final round.
A golden summer for Knox
Russell Knox may spend most of his year on the PGA Tour but he is quickly falling in love with Europe after a superb win at the Irish Open.
The 33-year-old, who had not won a tournament in two years, has secured three top-ten finishes across the pond this season, suggesting his game is in good nick.
But even he could not have predicted such a superb European leg, as he backed up his second at the French Open with a win at Ballyliffin.
Knox needed a play-off to defeat New Zealand’s Ryan Fox and got it done with an excellent 40-yard putt, which was almost identical to the one he nailed on the final hole that forced the play-off.
“It was obviously a putt you're going to miss way more times than you make," said the Scot.
"For me to have made it twice in a row...I'm very lucky."
Fox’s runner-up finish saw him take one of the three qualifying spots for The Open next week, with Andy Sullivan and Zander Lombard securing the other after finishing tied-sixth.
“I really enjoy playing in The Open and Carnoustie is one of the best courses in the world. I’m excited to get there and a little bit nervous to see how it plays but I’m very much looking forward to it" said Fox afterwards.
McIlroy senses improvement on the green grass of home
Rory McIlroy knows how to build form just in time for The Open and the 2014 Champion Golfer admits he is feeling good about his game after four days in Donegal.
McIlroy finished in a tie for 28th on two-under, 12 shots off Knox and Fox at the top but there were signs of progress for the 29-year-old – who is chasing his fifth major next week.
"There were improvements over the weekend," McIlroy said. "I hit the ball the best I've hit it on Thursday and I felt like I sort of kept it up.
Well done @rooknox on a spectacular victory today @Ballyliffin. It was an honour to host the @DDFIrishOpen for the past four years and I’d like to thank @EuropeanTour and the special Irish fans for all the support. Over to @mcginleygolf for 2019! pic.twitter.com/6wbwqDsLT7— Rory McIlroy (@McIlroyRory) July 8, 2018
"It maybe wasn't quite as good the last three days, but I putted a lot better on Sunday.
“I felt a lot better about it so that was great. Sometimes when I get too square with my feet, my upper body can get a little bit left and every putt I was missing was to the left.
"I feel like I've made some improvements over the last couple of days on that and at least I know I'm trending in the right direction heading into The Open Championship."
Na dominant in Greenbrier win
Kevin Na may not be a household name but he will arrive at Carnoustie as a dark horse after his second PGA Tour victory at The Greenbrier Classic.
The 34-year-old, who has made the cut at the last four Opens, hit six birdies in seven holes around the turn as he carded a six-under 64.
He finishes an impressive five shots clear of Kelly Kraft, while Brandt Snedeker finished third.
Kraft and Snedeker, along with fourth-placed Jason Kokrak and Austin Cook, earned qualification spots for The 147th Open at Carnoustie next week.
Na said: "I never knew when the next one was going to come," Na told Sky Sports. "It's a really sweet one today, especially with how I played and finished and won by a big margin."
The 147th Open takes place at Carnoustie Golf Links, Angus, from 15-22 July and you can be there to witness history by securing your ticket at TheOpen.com/Tickets.