2016 Scottish Open: Russell Knox - I do not want crazy journey to end

By Martin DowdenBBC Scotland at Castle Stuart
Russell Knox looks for "career-building" win at Castle Stuart

Russell Knox has every right to beam from ear to ear, as he did for the majority of his 15-minute media gathering, after flying in from his base in the United States to a sodden Castle Stuart.

"Great to be here," he offered in a slightly less Americanised accent than I expected. "Raining as always."

"I can't wait to play this week," he enthused to the assembled journalists. "I've been looking forward to this for a long time, probably four or five years to be honest."

So have we Russell.

It's exciting, even for battle weary Scottish journalists, to see someone performing at the top of their game on a world stage with the potential to go further.

That's not beyond Knox and the next two weeks provide the perfect platform for him to deliver further on his potential and achieve many of his dreams.

Victory at the this week's Scottish Open in his home town of Inverness would certainly be one. That would push him right up the list for Ryder Cup qualification. Then there's the matter of next week's Open at Troon.

Currently 27th in the world rankings, 131 places above the nearest Scot, Richie Ramsay, Knox is Scotland's best hope to at least fight for these trophies.

Living the dream

He is a contender in most tournaments these days, primarily on the PGA Tour, and for a place in Darren Clarke's Ryder Cup team.

As his star rises, Knox remains adamant that playing in front of an expectant home crowd over the next two weeks won't be a hindrance, despite heightened expectation.

His demeanour backs that up. He seems philosophical - what will be, will be.

"It adds a little bit of pressure," he said. "We're used to it, every week you've got pressure. I put a lot of pressure on myself every time I play so I don't really feel added pressure.

Russell Knox
Knox is aiming to play his way into the European team for the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine in September

"I've been wanting to do this my whole life. I've been wanting to play on the PGA tour, European Tour, all the majors and hey, it's starting to happen.

"I've been wanting to win tournaments, be in the top 20, 10 in the world, see how high I can get.

"This is what I've been dreaming my whole life. I'm not sure if you're ever really ready for it but you've just got to do your best and go for it."

There's a wider goal for Knox than doing well in his home country, or even achieving a dream Ryder Cup place.

Staying at the top

Getting into the top 20 or 30 players in the world is tremendously hard. Staying there is just as difficult, if not more challenging, and plenty of players have been there and fallen away.

"Of course the goal is to stay inside the top 50 but you have to play well to do that," said Knox.

"It's so hard to stay there. To be honest I don't know how I'm going to do. I could quite easily move forward or quite easily move back.

"That's the hard thing about golf. It's such a hard game. One week you feel like you can hit any shot, then up comes a week like last week when you're like 'Am I even good enough to play golf?' I feel like I can keep improving."

Luke Donald
Knox says former world number one Luke Donald's slide down the rankings shows how difficult it is to stay at the top

Luke Donald addressed us shortly before Knox's arrival. He won this tournament at Castle Stuart in a rain-shortened Scottish Open in 2011, when he was the top-ranked golfer on the planet.

He is now 83rd in the world and struggles to get anywhere near the form he showed so consistently.

"Luke is a great player, and he's just one example of someone who has been at the top and slipped down," said Knox. "He's still a great player.

"It's so hard to stay there and this is really my first go at trying to stay there and trying to move up."

Such awareness can only be a positive for Knox and perhaps helps to keep his head on the ground despite his success.

"The whole journey's been crazy the last couple of years. I just hope I never wake up and it keeps going."

Victory here at home could be the launchpad for his life to get even crazier.