McIlroy looks on the bright side ahead of British Open

Russell Knox celebrates holing the winning putt on the 18th hole

Russell Knox celebrates holing the winning putt on the 18th hole

Russell Knox rolled in two awesome, near-identical putts on both the 72nd and first play-off hole to claim the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

It was a wonderful conclusion to a tournament that was hugely successful.

The Scotsman defeated New Zealand's Ryan Fox in the first hole of their play-off by holing a 40-foot birdie.

Fox then two-putted for birdie on the 17th hole as Knox made the first of his enormous putts on 18 to set the clubhouse target at 14-under, giving the New Zealander a chance to claim the title if he could make birdie on the last.

Knox now has a Rolex Series win to add to his WGC-HSBC Champions crown from 2015 and continues his fine form after finishing in a tie for second at last week's HNA Open de France. I'm so happy. I said (on the play-off hole) we've already made this putt, it can't be too hard. "It's so hard to win tournaments".

"I'll just treat it like any other event", McIlroy said. "This is a heck of a start but I feel I have more to go".

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Anirban Lahiri of India, who shot a 61 in the second round, shot 71-76 on the weekend to end up tied for 39th at 5 under. Since this tournament debuted in 2010, there have been four first-time champions, but no third-round leader has won.

"After the eagle on the fourth, I knew I was in it because I hadn't really missed a shot", Knox said. "I hit the ball the best I've hit it on Thursday and I felt like I sort of kept it up".

McIlroy struggled with his putting during the first two rounds but was pleased to see his fortunes improve of the greens on his way to a tied-28th finish.

Fox, along with England's Andy Sullivan and South African Zander Lombard, had the consolation of clinching an Open Championship spot for the three leading non-exempt top-10 finishers at Ballyliffin.

"I drove it great, gave myself plenty of chances, and had one putt been one inch either way".

Erik van Rooyen led by four overnight but fell away with a final-round 74. He will now head to Carnoustie full of confidence and has thrown his hat in the ring for a place in Europe's Ryder Cup team.

Fox shot 68 to Knox's 66, with Jorge Campillo going round in 65 to finish one off the pace at 13 under. A bogey followed on the next but a 20-footer on the 12th had him in the leading group at 12 under. I read the putt and I was like, 'Just don't aim.

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