*Russell Knox. Photograph: Getty Images / Dubai Duty Free Irish Open
Reigning Irish Open champion, Russell Knox has confirmed he will defend his title at Lahinch Golf Club this July while organisers are expecting crowds in excess of 90,000.
Last year, Knox won the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open title in dramatic fashion, holing a 45-foot birdie putt to force a play-off before sinking an almost identical one on the first extra hole to clinch a maiden Rolex Series title with a play-off victory over New Zealand’s Ryan Fox.
The 33-year-old will join a star-studded field for the second Rolex Series event of the 2019 Race to Dubai, which includes 2017 Race to Dubai Champion Tommy Fleetwood, former Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen, 2016 Masters winner Danny Willett, former World Number One Lee Westwood plus home heroes Padraig Harrington and Shane Lowry.
Knox, the 2015 World Golf Championships winner will be hoping to fine-tune his game on the famous Old Course at Lahinch Golf Club two weeks prior to The Open Championship, as Europe’s only Major visits Northern Ireland for the first time.
“I can’t wait to return to Ireland to defend my title,” said the USA-based player, originally from Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. “That win was a moment I’ll remember for the rest of my life, just one of those great days in my career which I’ll always look back on. It will be nice to go back and enjoy my title defence and hopefully challenge for the title again. The Irish fans were so supportive of me and I’m glad I could give something back with the drama at the 18th hole. They are some of the best fans in the world and I have heard great things about Lahinch Golf Club and the surrounding area, so it should be a fantastic week in July.”
With blazing sunshine and a star-studded field, a total of 94,239 people attended the event at Ballyliffin Golf Club, organisers are expecting similar crowds this year at Lahinch.