- Russell Knox's WGC win has been 'a great inspiration'
- Former coach David Torrance delighted for the Scot
- Believes he can go on to win the Open Championship
Russell Knox's former coach believes his win at the WGC-HSBC Champions has been a huge inspiration to young golfers in the Highlands – and has tipped the Scot to go on and achieve glory at the Open Championship in the coming years.
Knox saw off a world-class field to win by two strokes from Kevin Kisner in Shanghai, a result which saw him become the highest-ranked Scot for the first time and earn his place in all four majors next year – including a Masters debut.
And David Torrance, who coached Knox from his early teenage years to when he flew the nest for America 12 years ago, was delighted to hear of the PGA Tour star’s success and has already seen the positive impact his victory has had among youngsters at the club.
"It’s a great inspiration for the juniors at our club" - David Torrance
“It’s a great inspiration for the juniors at our club to see that a guy from Nairn went on to do what Russell did last weekend,” said Torrance who, when he arrived as Head PGA professional at Nairn Dunbar GC in 1999, sold his first set of clubs to a 13-year-old Knox.
“While he was in contention throughout the tournament and on Sunday after he’d won, there were kids arriving at the club for coaching and they were just full of it, knowing that somebody from the Highlands can win one of the world’s biggest tournaments. It was wonderful to see.”
Knox grew up alongside a talented bunch at Nairn Dunbar, which included Ladies European Tour star Kelsey MacDonald, and looking back, Torrance recalls a teenager who was intently focused on his golf, with one particular night of coaching lingering in the memory.
“Even as a kid, he was driven to succeed in golf and you could clearly see that,” said Torrance. “His dad was a real ‘can do’ guy who was always pushing Russell – and Russell wanted to do it – and they just had a real positive atmosphere going around their golf.
“He was very slight, but very quick on the uptake. Any skill you presented to him, he could do it. I can remember teaching him how to draw the ball one day and he went out and played a tie later on that evening and obliterated the old chap he was playing!”
In his press conference after winning the WGC-HSBC Champions, Knox said there ‘weren’t many highlights’ in his amateur career in Scotland, an assessment Torrance agrees with. But his former coach believes his personality, combined with his move across the Atlantic where he went to Jacksonville University, helped considerably in getting him to where he is today.
“He’s right, he probably didn’t have a glittering amateur career,” admitted Torrance. “But moving to America was great for him, getting in the mix with the university golf and all the competitiveness involved with that.
"I firmly believe he can win the Open one year" - David Torrance
“I’ve coached a lot of good kids over the years and given them a grounding but he’s done all the hard work since. You get kids down to scratch or better and some of them look like they’re not going to make it beyond there. Everything he’s done is from all the experience he’s had and working up through the tours and working damn hard at it.
“So full marks to him, he’s done wonderfully well, and when he visited the club earlier this summer before the Scottish Open, I told him that I firmly believe he can win the Open one year.”
Knox’s win in China was considered the ‘cherry on top’ for Torrance after an excellent season, which saw students Kyle Godsman win the Scottish Golf Men’s Order of Merit and Sandy Scott win the Boys’ equivalent after a stunning season which included three wins in the space of 40 days.
Scott, like Knox and many other Scots before him, harbours aspirations of going to America and Torrance sees no reason why the 17-year-old can’t follow Knox to the pinnacle of the sport.
“Sandy’s got massive potential,” explained Torrance. “I’ve been coaching him since he was ten and he’s now nearly off plus four. He’s got the intellect – he got five As in his Highers – he’s got the ability and, importantly, he’s immensely driven. If anyone could make it, I think Sandy can. He’s got that something a wee bit special.”
Russell Knox :: A future Open winner?
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