Final Irish Open leaderboard 2018:
Irish Open report
Russell Knox defeated Ryan Fox in a playoff at a drama-packed Irish Open to win at Ballyliffin.
The Scot drained a huge birdie putt on the 18th to set the clubhouse target at 14-under-par, which was matched just minutes later by the huge-hitting Kiwi.
And on the first playoff hole at the 18th, after narrowly missing the fairway bunker with his tee shot, Knox played his approach into almost the exact same spot from which he had made his lengthy putt in regulation.
The result? A near identical result to force Fox to make his putt, which burned the left-edge.
Fox will be feeling aggrieved after seemingly being in control, but few will begrudge this victory from Knox, who went agonisingly close at this very tournament just two years ago.
Knox, who plays the majority of his golf on the PGA Tour, may have been the beneficiary of plenty of good fortune in the playoff, but he deserved his spot against Fox after posting a fine round of 66.
He got off the mark with an eagle at the fourth hole on his way to a front-nine 32, and then made four birdies on the back-nine, finalised with that incredible putt on the 18th.
Fox, who was playing in the penultimate group alongside Danny Willett, birdied the par-5 17th and headed to the final hole in the knowledge that a birdie would see him lift his first European Tour title.
In the circumstances, the New-Zealander played it almost to perfection. After blasting his drive down the fairway, he hit his approach to eight feet. The putt just missed on the right.
There was also disappointment for the overnight leader, Erik Van Rooyen, who didn’t look comfortable with front-running from the off. When the South African made three bogeys in a four-hole stretch on the front-nine, he’d face an uphill battle to try and claw his way back to the leaders. A combination of wild tee shots, wayward approaches and the occasional missed short putt meant he could only get within two shots.
Spain’s Jorge Campillo continued his fine form of late to post a rollercoaster final round 65, which included two eagles and five birdies. A superb par-save at the 18th got him in the clubhouse at 13-under-par, agonisingly just one shot short of the eventual playoff.
And the defending champion Jon Rahm will be ruing his triple-bogey at the second hole after missing the playoff by only two shots. After his error-strewn seven, Rahm made an eagle and seven birdies – including four straight to close the round – to sign for a 66 and a share for fourth place.
So what happened to Rory McIlroy? Read Keel Timmins’ full round-up from Ballyliffin here