Nationwide Tour Insider: Success motivates KnoxJune 15, 2011
John Dell, Nationwide Tour Insider
Russell Knox loves this time of year when the tournaments are coming at a rapid pace and he can get into a groove.
Knox, 25, who is in his first full season on the Nationwide Tour is off to a good start and hopes to continue it this week at the Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open, which begins on Thursday.
This week's tournament is one of four of the original events of the Tour's first season in 1990.
"I really haven't played this many weeks in a row in the past on the mini-tours," said Knox, who is from Scotland but starred at Jacksonville University where he was an All-America. "I feel like I'm playing pretty well so it's going to be interesting to see how it goes during this stretch."
The Nationwide Tour has a four-week stretch with the stop in Kansas being the third tournament in a row. Knox tied for 28th at the BMW Charity Pro-Am, then struggled and missed the cut at the Melwood Prince George's County Open before putting up another solid week at the Rex Hospital Open in Raleigh, N.C.
In Raleigh, Knox tied for 34th with rounds of 70-68-73-68 and played his final round without a bogey.
He has come a long way since starting out the season with no status on the Nationwide Tour. But a tie for second early in the season in the Fresh Express Classic got him going in the right direction and he hasn't looked back.
"It couldn't have turned out any better," Knox said about his future. He now has status for the rest of the season on the Nationwide Tour. "All of sudden on that Sunday I have a chance to win, and then after that I was able to have some status so the year has gone pretty well."
Knox has done enough so far in six tournaments to rank 22nd on the money list. His goal before the season started was to play a few Nationwide Tour tournaments, but now the goals have changed.
"I set a couple of goals early and I managed to achieve them pretty fast," said Knox, who also Monday-qualified at PGA TOUR's Transitions Championship where he missed the cut. "Once I got status on the Nationwide, I kind of reassessed my goals and of course one of them is to stay inside the top 25 on the money list."
Knox says that if he can stay consistent and remain committed to what he has been working on with his swing coach, Mike Flemming, he just might achieve another goal. If he can stay inside the top 25 by the end of the season he'll earn his PGA TOUR card.
"I've thought about that, but you can't let it consume your every thought," Knox said.
Even though it appears that it was a smooth transition to the Nationwide Tour, Knox said he had doubts. In a leap of faith he decided to give up the vagabond lifestyle of a mini tour player and put all his efforts into the Nationwide Tour. It sounded easy enough, but until he finished second at the Fresh Express Classic to earn a career-best $52,000 Knox wasn't sure what would happen. He says he didn't have a lot of money to work with, but was determined to make a go of it.
"Golf is golf on any tour and it took me awhile to convince myself of that," Knox said. "If you are going to play well in a tournament it's just you playing the course no matter what stage it is. You just have to be patient and if you are good enough, good things will happen."
Knox said a steadying influence on his game is his girlfriend, Andrea Hernandez, who used play on the Women's Tennis Association tour several years ago. Knox says that having somebody to talk to after a bad day on the golf course such as Hernandez can't be overlooked.
"She's been through all of that with tennis and knows how it can be," Knox said. "Andrea was a lot younger then me when she was traveling all over the world and doing the tennis thing and she went through a lot. She's the perfect one to talk to after I miss a cut. Her response is usually 'big deal, it's just one tournament.'"
Knox says he's done a good job of not getting too high or too low during the long season.
He's also adjusted his practice time during tournament weeks so as to not burn himself out.
As for the Nationwide Tour and the competition, Knox knew it would be tough.
"The tournament fields are so deep you really need to put four good days together and that's the great thing about the Nationwide Tour," Knox said. "Nobody is going to give you a gift out here, and that's what I love about it."
John Dell has covered golf for the Winston-Salem Journal in North Carolina for the last 17 years. His views do not necessarily represent the views of the PGA TOUR. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.