Knox wins Irish Open in playoff after extraordinary finish

Crowds watch Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy and England's Aaron Rai on the 11th green during day four of the Irish Open at Ballyliffin Golf Club, in County Donegal, Ireland, Sunday July 8, 2018. (Niall Carson/PA via AP)
Lee Westwood takes a shot on the 18th fairway during day three of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Ballyliffin Golf Club, Ireland, Saturday July 7, 2018. (Niall Carson/PA via AP)

DONEGAL, Ireland — Scottish golfer Russell Knox rolled in almost-identical birdie putts from around 40 feet on the 72nd hole and the first playoff hole to win the Irish Open on Sunday.

After Knox made birdie on No. 18 to set the clubhouse target at 14-under par, Ryan Fox of New Zealand missed an 8-foot birdie putt that would have won him the Rolex Series event.

They went back down the 18th hole for the playoff and Knox pitched from 131 yards to virtually the same spot on the green. His long birdie putt curled left to right and into the cup.

Fox failed to match the birdie, his putt agonizingly lipping out, and Knox put his hands to his face.

"Tough to describe how amazing this feels," said Knox, who shot 6-under 66 in his final round.

"It's why I play golf — all the practice days, all the misses, all the bad moments, all are taken care of with putts like that ... Making two of them from almost identical positions. I mean, that's a bit of a bonus. Unbelievable."

Knox is set to climb into the world's top 50, having tied for second place at the French Open last week, and is fifth in the Race to Dubai. He has boosted his chances of making Europe's Ryder Cup team for the match against the United States in France in September.

"To make the Ryder Cup team, you have to win tournaments," Knox said. "This is a heck of a start but I feel I have more to go."

Fox, who had a 68, secured a place in the British Open at Carnoustie, Scotland, later this month.

Jorge Campillo (65) was in third place, a shot further back, and defending champion Jon Rahm was in a share of fourth after a 66.

Rory McIlroy shot 71 and was 2 under overall.

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