(Reuters) - Russell Knox sank a 12-foot par putt at the final hole to win the Travelers Championship in Connecticut by one shot on Sunday, moving the Scot into contention for a place on the European team at next month’s Ryder Cup.
Knox is a dual British and United States citizen and although he carries two passports, the 31-year-old left no doubt where his loyalties lie after carding a 68 to finish at 14-under-par 266 at River Highlands in Cromwell.
“My dad was born in California so I have dual nationality. I‘m not sure there’s ever been someone in my position before but I‘m Scottish down to the core so I’ll be on team Europe hopefully,” the Inverness-born Knox told reporters.
Knox claimed the title after getting up-and-down from a greenside bunker on the final hole to edge out American veteran Jerry Kelly, who signed for a 64 then watched the action unfold on TV in the scoring trailer.
An ecstatic Knox tossed his cap across the green when the winning putt dropped as his Canadian caddie Bradley Whittle celebrated a second victory at the event previously known as the Greater Hartford Open, having worked for 1994 winner David Frost.
“I said to my caddie Bradley, ‘it’s never easy’. That putt, I’ll remember that one forever,” Knox said, before turning his thoughts to the Ryder Cup.
The win lifts Knox inside the top 20 in the world rankings and offers another reminder of his talent to European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke ahead of the biennial event against the United States in Minnesota at the end of September.
Only five European players are ahead of Knox on the world rankings -- Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Danny Willett, Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose.
Even if Knox is not among the nine players to make the team automatically, he will be in line for one of Clarke’s three captain’s picks.
”I thought about it (Ryder Cup) on the last tee to be honest,“ Knox said. ”I knew by winning this tournament, it puts Darren Clarke in a very difficult position not to pick me but it’s his decision.
”He can pick whoever he wants. If I make the top nine I deserve to be on the team. If I‘m number 10 he can quite happily pass on me and that’s just the way it is.
“I hope I‘m on the team. I’d love to be there. It would be a huge honor. Holing nice putts like that obviously helps.”
It was the second PGA Tour victory for Knox, who broke through by winning the WGC-HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai in November.
Knox’s victory came a few hours after American Jim Furyk had shot the lowest round in PGA Tour history when he combined one eagle and 10 birdies for a 12-under 58.
Furyk’s stunning score was one shot better than the previous tour record held by six players, including Furyk himself.
The performance vaulted him into a tie for fifth at 11-under, three shots behind Knox.
Overnight leader Daniel Berger also finished three strokes behind after a 74 that included four consecutive bogeys from the 10th.
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by John O'Brien