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Sam Torrance: Ryder Cup opportunity Knox for Russell

Russell Knox would have felt very aggrieved at missing out on a place in Europes Ryder Cup team two years ago.

The Scot was ranked 20th in the world – higher than seven of the 12 players who did make the team – but a technicality meant that his win at a prestigious WGC event did not count towards his qualifying points and captain Darren Clarke then opted for other players as his wildcard picks.

Darren had big decisions to make and went with Thomas Pieters over Knox. It proved a great call as the young Belgian claimed four points from his five matches at Hazeltine. But it means that Knox will be desperate to feature in Paris later this year and he has put himself in a fabulous position to do so with victory at the Irish Open on Sunday.

Read more: Sam Torrance: Molinari and Noren give Europe Ryder boost

The way he won the tournament was magnificent. He sank a 40-foot putt for birdie at 18 to take the clubhouse lead and then, after Ryan Fox had forced a play-off, Knox repeated the trick with an almost identical monster putt at the same hole to win his first European Tour title.

Knox is enjoying a great career, having found his way on the PGA Tour. Its commonplace now because the standard of European golf is that good, but if he had done that in my day hed have been a megastar.

He was runner-up to Thorbjorn Olesen at the French Open last month – held at the Ryder Cup venue – and now he has a Rolex Series win to add to his PGA Tour and WGC titles. All hes missing is a Major.

Knox has said how much of a motivation the Ryder Cup is and he is in a great vein of form at the right time.

I love seeing players force their way into contention. At the Ryder Cup youd rather have someone playing at their best than a player who won three times at the start of the year but who faded and scraped in.

The Scottish Open is another great chance for Knox. The man from Inverness has just won on a great seaside links course so Im sure hell be up there at Gullane this week.

It was another great finish for Olesen in Ireland. The Dane, who tied for sixth, must be so frustrated that he is still outside the automatic Ryder Cup places. It just shows how hard it is to make the team when there are only four spots allocated from each of the European and world points lists.

Jon Rahm, who is on track to qualify, demonstrated his quality and strength of character to finish fourth despite a tough first round and an early wobble on Sunday.

Danny Willett, who tied with Olesen, showed signs of form too after a difficult few months for the 2016 Masters champion. The Englishman looked to be swinging well and its nice to see from a Major winner.

Finally, Irish Open organisers deserve praise for a very well received tournament. It was the first big event for a while at Ballyliffin Golf Club but it looked beautiful and there was a great crowd.

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