Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Shanghai Surprise for Knox Scottish Player Wins Wgc Debut by Two Strokes

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Shanghai Surprise for Knox Scottish Player Wins Wgc Debut by Two Strokes

Article excerpt

Russell Knox raised both arms in the air, closed his eyes and tilted his head toward the heavens as if he couldn't believe what he had just done.

Dating to when the World Golf Championships began in 1999, no one had ever won in his debut. Knox wasn't even eligible for the HSBC Champions in Shanghai until he got in 10 days ago as an alternate, and then it was a mad scramble in Malaysia to get a Chinese visa in time to play.

Walking out of the Sheshan International clubhouse with a share of the 54-hole lead, Knox noticed a billboard with names and images of past winners at the HSBC Champions - Phil Mickelson and Martin Kaymer, Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson.

"Everyone who wins this tournament is a superstar," Knox, 30, said. "I knew this would be the hardest day in my life."

Knox, from Scotland, had never won in 92 previous tries on the PGA Tour. He made it look like a breeze. He broke out of a five-way tie for the lead Sunday with two quick birdies to start the back nine and was flawless the rest of the way for a 4-under 68 and a two-shot victory over Kevin Kisner.

"I always thought I was going to win a big one for my first one," he said. "But this is going to take a long time to sink in."

He played alongside Johnson, whose power can be so intimidating that Knox didn't watch him hit a shot for 12 holes. In the group ahead was Jordan Spieth, on his way back to No. 1 in the world. The cheers were for Li Haotong, 20, from Shanghai, who received rock-star treatment during a wild final round that ended with the best finish by a Chinese player on the PGA Tour.

"Incredible for me this week," Li said. "This for me is very, very big."

Imagine how it felt for Knox, whose unexpected trip to China ended with a most surprising victory.

Knox finished at 20-under 268 and earned $1.4 million, along with perks that include his first trip to the Masters in April.

OTHER TOURNAMENTS

* Charles Schwab Cup Championship:Billy Andrade won the season-ending Champions Tour title, beating tour points winner Bernhard Langer with a birdie on the first hole of a playoff. …

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