Rory McIlroy notices improvements in his game ahead of The Open

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

Russell Knox can now dream of a debut Ryder Cup appearance after edging out Ryan Fox in a play-off to win the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation at Ballyliffin.

The New Zealander had that putt for the title but missed on the high side and the pair were left to go back up the last.

World number 87 Knox, 33, won by holing a 40-foot birdie after knocking in an nearly identical putt to card a six-under 66 and force the extra hole. I'm so happy. I said to my caddie (on the play-off hole) we've already made this putt, it can't be too hard. "These things happen. People hole putts to win tournaments". The way I managed to do it, holing those two long putts, it was just my time. "This is a heck of a start but I feel I have more to go". Knox made his first red number of the day via birdie-2 at 5 before he added a second circle at 8.

"But I was able to hit a good shot and get on the green, which I was thrilled with".

Spain's Jorge Campillo finished a shot outside the play-off after a brilliant final round of 65, with defending champion Jon Rahm another stroke back following a remarkable 66 which included a triple-bogey seven on the second and five birdies in the last six holes.

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"To make the Ryder Cup team, you have to win tournaments", Knox said.

The second-place finish qualified the 31-year-old Kiwi to participate in the next major, the Open Championship at Carnoustie from July 19-22, and he also pocketed a career-best payday of €665,614 (NZ$1.14 million).

South Africa's Erik van Rooyen began the day with a four-shot lead but struggled to a 74 to finish alongside Rahm on 12 under. "I heard Russ holed a big one on 18 to get in the playoff and he obviously holed a massive one in the playoff as well".

After being joined on 13 under by Knox and Campillo, Fox had a glorious chance to moved two ahead again with a 12-foot eagle chance at the 17th but the putt slipped by to leave him one ahead.

The consoloation for Fox is that he did claim one of the Open qualifying spots given to three players in the top 10 and not already exempt.

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