Friday 23 August 2019

Knox praise for blind faith in famous holes - but he won't trust his caddie

Russell Knox. Photo: John Dickson/Sportsfile
Russell Knox. Photo: John Dickson/Sportsfile

Brian Keogh

Defending champion Russell Knox wouldn't change Lahinch's crown jewels for the world.

The Scot expects players to moan about the blind approach to the Klondyke (fourth), followed swiftly by the blind par-three fifth (the Dell) but he's ready to embrace those iconic, 19th-century challenges with a smile.

"Four is probably the smallest fairway I've ever seen out of any hole anywhere in the world," he said. "But it does all kick in from the hills. But I mean, hit over a mound to a hole where there's out of bounds right behind the green, it is what it is. It's a cool hole.

"Back in the day, I played similar holes at courses I grew up playing. But you wouldn't even go up to the top of the hill when you were a junior. Oh, just hit it over the rock, there you go, just get it down there, and get on with it. So it's all about your attitude and just how you go into it."

Host Paul McGinley has had the Tour install a video screen at the Dell so the players on the tee and the fans sitting in the stand behind can see a possible hole-in-one. "All of those things were done to mitigate the fact it is a blind shot," McGinley said. "And one of the thrills of having a hole in one is to see the ball go in."

As for the Klondyke, which is a par-five for members, Knox admits he climbed the big dune that blocks out the players' view of the green rather than rely on his caddie for the line.

Revamp

"Never listen to your caddie," he joked. "I think all the players will go up and take a look, to give yourself a reference. I hit the first one like 50 yards right today, so I probably should've walked up."

Lahinch underwent a major revamp in 1999 and Knox agrees that the club and course architect Dr Martin Hawtree made the correct decision to leave Lahinch's iconic fourth and fifth holes unchanged.

"That's what makes this course different," he said. "If those holes were just flattened and it was normal and then it would maybe just be another links course. Yes, there will be a lot of criticism this week, the blind par-three. Many will love it."

Irish Independent

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