Knox Eagles Last & Now Looks To Become First Irish Open Repeat Winner In 22-Years

Russell Knox brilliantly eagled the last to boost chances of becoming the first since Colin Montgomerie 22-years ago to successfully defend the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Lahinch.

Knox rolled-in a three-footer at the par-five last hole in posting a second round 68 and turn a very indifferent start, when he was struggling at three-over through six holes, to salvage his round with a two-under 68 for a 36-hole five under par total and just four from the front.

Scotland’s top-ranked golfer had doubled three, bogeyed six but dug deep with birdies at seven, nine and 13, and while he dropped a shot on 15, Knox turned it all around at the last and tied with fellow Scot Bob McIntyre who got ‘soaked’ much earlier in the day in shooting a 69.

South African Zander Lombard signed for a three-under par 67 to lead the £5.5m event by a shot at nine-under.

England’s Eddie Pepperell (67) is at eight-under par and with three players – England’s Lee Westwood (67), Spaniard Jorge Campillo (64) and Mexican-born Texan Abraham Ancer (67).

Ancer was afforded an invitation to compete in Ireland and while he’s skipping next week’s Scottish Open he is headed to Royal Portrush next fortnight for a first time and thanks to his victory last December in the Australian Open in Sydney.

Though he revealed he’s got to make one stop on route north to Portrush and that’s to St. James Gate in Dublin.

Ancer said:   “I’ve enjoyed having a couple of pints of Guinness this week and they’ve been really good.

“So, I’m going to have a week off in Dublin, and I’m actually going to go to the factory and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Westwood’s never won an Irish Open and coming the closest in 1997 in finishing runner-up by a distant seven shots to Colin Montgomerie.

He said:  “I’ve always enjoyed playing in Ireland. The Irish people have taken to me, and I’ve been coming here a long time. It’s my 26th year playing in Ireland and my 17th Irish Open.

“In saying that I’ve never been here before, so we’re both seeing it for the first time. It’s one of those bucket list golf courses and everybody should have the chance to come play Lahinch.”

In very stark contrast McIntyre is playing the Irish Open for a first occasion and continues to show his fondness for three particular Lahinch holes in again taking birdie at the first while also managing birdies at also the eighth and 12th holes for a second day running ahead of six closing pars.

In contrast to Knox finishing near 6.30pm in glorious sunshine, McIntyre emerged ‘soaked’ from early morning showers to be shining with three birdies in a one-under 69 for a five-under 36-hole total on the Lahinch course on Ireland’s south-west shoreline.

McIntyre said:  “It was a lot tougher today as yesterday we probably got the best of the weather and the wind started to calm down, but today we’ve got the worst.

“I was soaked from the rain for the first 14 holes but I managed to hang on out there today and get a low one in.

“My patience was good today while my ball-striking is really good just now. I drove it a lot better today than I did yesterday, so it’s just about getting the ball in play and taking it from there, just giving yourself lots of chances, and today I gave myself a lot and just didn’t take them.

“After 10 holes I was level par, so it was just about hanging on when the showers were coming in so 1-under par, I’d have taken that before going out.”

Craigielaw’s Grant Forrest is a shot further back signing for a 66 to be at three-under par while Liam Johnston (70) heads to weekend at two-under.

Missing the cut was David Law (141), David Drysdale (142) and Stephen Gallacher (142), Richie Ramsay (143) and Scott Jamieson (150).

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