Still pursuing Ryder Cup goal, Knox juggles time on PGA, European tours
When the 12-foot par putt rolled in, Russell Knox fired his hat like a boomerang and let out a roar.
The Scotsman had more on his mind than just winning last year’s Travelers Championship when he celebrated on the 18th hole. He had hoped the victory would secure him a spot on the European Ryder Cup team, too.
But captain Darren Clarke went in a different direction with his selections — Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood and Thomas Pieters — for last fall’s matches at Hazeltine National.
Knox was disappointed, but he made sure to remain a member of the European Tour this year to stay eligible for the 2018 Ryder Cup.
“I think you should have to be a member of the European Tour, though,” he said. “I don’t think they will ever change that rule. I know some people would like them to. I think it’s important to go to Europe to be a part of the European Tour, the culture, to be part of the team. I need to do a better job of being a part of it.”
That means more schedule juggling and travel for Knox to get in the minimum five European events to retain membership there in addition to being on the PGA Tour.
“It’s tough,” Knox said. “They’ve made it easier for guys, which is nice. But the travel, I’m going to have to travel quite a bit coming up.
“It’s difficult, but it’s part of the business. It’s part of the job and it’s my choice. I don’t have to join the European Tour if I don’t want to. But I chose to — that’s the way I look at it.”
Knox would have qualified for the team if he had been a member of the European Tour when he won the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in November 2015. But he joined the Tour late and had to rely on being a wild-card pick.
“I can’t complain about it because I don’t have to do it,” Knox said. “I want to do it and I have to embrace it and enjoy it. I look forward.”
With more European players moving to the USA — Knox lives in Florida after originally moving there to attend college in Jacksonville — it has become more difficult to juggle a schedule on both tours.
Paul Casey put family first in deciding to play only on the PGA Tour, and that has kept him from being eligible for the European Ryder Cup team. Knox doesn’t want to give up his Ryder Cup dreams, though.
“That’s obviously the big reason why I do it,” Knox said. “But at the same time, I’d play in the Scottish Open anyways. There are also many great tournaments over there like Rolex Series events, which are fun to be a part of and hopefully do well in.
“It’s nice to be a world golfer, a world traveler, and it’s fun to travel the world to play golf. I’m lucky I can do it.”
To be able to play on both tours, Knox has had to map out his schedule ahead of time and skip some events to make things work.
“I look at it from the start of the year, but it’s hard,” he said. “(We) went back and forth a lot about potential schedules. It’s not easy to fit everything in, and that’s part of it.
“It’s also kind of fun to juggle it. It’s hard to pass up tournaments in the U.S. that I really enjoy going to, but that’s the way it has to be sometimes.”