Making your professional debut in your home country would make any player’s heart beat a little faster but US-based Scot Russell Knox settled those nerves perfectly with a superb three-under-par 68 at Royal Aberdeen this morning.
The Inverness-born 29-year-old carded six birdies and three bogeys to get in the red numbers after the opening round and he admitted afterwards that the experience of standing on the first tee as a professional on home soil was somewhat ‘surreal’.
“I prepared myself to be a little more nervous than I was,” he said. “It’s a tactic that I’ve found works for the most part. Starting with a birdie calmed me down pretty quickly.
“I’m always nervous on the first tee. That’s just the way it is. But somebody once told me you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable to be good at professional golf. I never feel truly comfortable but that’s fine.
“I prepared myself at the Players Championship earlier this year. I was ready for my heart to be pounding out of my chest at the 17th hole there, so, after that, the first hole here felt a little easier. I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I was going to be, so that was great.”
“There were a lot of people around towards the end of the day, which was nice." - Russell Knox
Knox teed off at 7.30am alongside Ryder Cup star Nicolas Colsaerts and Morten Orum Madsen and admitted that, apart from a sizeable crowd of friends and family following him, there weren’t many people around. Not that he was particularly bothered, though.
“I’d rather have more people at the end of my round, as that’s a sign I’m playing pretty good,” he said. “There were a lot of people around towards the end of the day, which was nice. It’s always good to have that support.”
Knox has positioned himself nicely after the opening round and knows that a good round this week could get him into next week’s Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, with three spots up for grabs for the best non-exempt finishers at Royal Aberdeen. That, he admits, is something he’s well aware of.
“It’s hard not to think about that,” he said. “I’d love it to happen and, if it does, great. If it doesn’t, then I’ll get to spend another week in Scotland, which will be great, too.”
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