Players Championship: Russell Knox ready to return to scene of 'epic fail'
|Venue: TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida Dates: 11-14 May|
|Coverage: Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website on Saturday and Sunday.|
Scotland’s Russell Knox insists he won’t be haunted by taking nine shots on Sawgrass’s iconic 17th hole during last year’s Players Championship.
The 31-year-old was in contention during the third round when he sent three tee shots into the lake, later describing it as an “epic fail”.
“Maybe last year I was too aggressive,” Knox told BBC Scotland.
“I don’t shy away from it, or forget it. I have to embrace that it happened. Everybody’s nervous on that hole.”
Knox was on eight under par at the time, with serious hopes of challenging for the tournament on the final day, before his difficulties on the famous par-three hole.
“So I’ve got to play towards the middle of the green, try to make 12 shots on [the 17th] for the week and move on,” Knox said.
“Don’t make it bigger than it is; it’s a 120-140 yard [tee] shot. I can manage that.”
The Invernesian has recorded three top-10 finishes this season and believes there is more improvement to come from his game during the summer.
The Players Championship – often described as the unofficial fifth major – provides an opportunity for him to test his form against a strong field.
Knox won the World Golf Championships-HSBC Championship in 2016 and is ranked 30th in the world rankings. He says his target at every tournament is to at least record a top-25 finish.
“It’s obvious I’m not going to go out there and win every week, but as a top-30 player and someone who thinks of himself as a good golfer, I need to be going out there and putting in good performances every week,” Knox said.
“A top-25 [finish] shows you’ve played well, a top-10 you’re almost there winning the tournament. How many times you give yourself a chance to win shows how good a player you are.
“[The Players Championship] is a tournament that has a massive feel to it. There’s an unbelievable amount of spectators that come and watch. The course is obviously extremely famous.
|Recent Players Championship winners|
|2016: Jason Day (Aus) -15|
|2015: Rickie Fowler (US) -12 (won after play-off)|
|2014: Martin Kaymer (Ger) -13|
|2013: Tiger Woods (US) -13|
|2012: Matt Kuchar (US) -13|
|2011: KJ Choi (Kor) -13|
“I can see [why some people say it is more important than the US PGA title], it is the strongest full field tournament in the world. All the major fields aren’t as strong as this one, if you think about the criteria of who qualifies, so that makes it pretty close to a major.
“My results maybe haven’t quite been there the last couple of months, but my game feels good and this course sets up well for me. I’m expecting to play well this week.
“Golf is hard, everybody knows that. Sometimes it just takes a lucky bounce or a putt to drop to really catch some momentum and get going.
“I maybe just haven’t quite had that the last couple of months, combined with a couple of poor shots here and there. I’m not far away and I’m pretty optimistic that my game and results are going to come this summer.”
Knox tees off on Thursday at 18:08 BST alongside Brian Harman of America and Venezuela’s Jhonattan Vegas.