In a week when the musical world is celebrating 50 years of Abbey Road and all things Beatles related, a post round blether with Russell Knox after a six-under 66 over the Old Course in the Dunhill Links Championship yesterday should have been accompanied by one of the Fab Four’s earlier little ditties. Do you want to know a secret?

“Don’t tell my caddie but I switched shafts this week and didn’t let him know,” Knox whispered in the kind of clandestine tones that had the golf writers checking their backs to make sure they hadn’t been followed to the interview area.

“It was a big secret because I didn’t want him to freak out. The new shafts are a little softer. Hopefully he doesn’t read the papers.”

The tweak to the tools of his trade certainly had the desired effect for Knox. His 7-iron into the 11th, for instance, had him cooing like a dove in a jacuzzi.


“That was one of the best shots I have ever felt coming off the club,” he said. “It held against the wind perfectly, went to five feet and I holed it for birdie.”

While Justin Walters set a robust early pace with a 63 on the Old Course and the in-form Richie Ramsay led the Scots with a seven-under 63 at Kingsbarns, Knox tucked himself in among the frontrunners with a sturdy showing.

The Inverness exile was actually leading the field after 15 holes but a leaked shot on 16 was followed by another bogey on the perilous Road Hole 17th where he had to play a recovery from the tarmac.

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“I hit a brand-new 60 degree wedge there and now it’s all scuffed,” he said with a rueful grin. A birdie on the 18th, however, helped to buff things up.

“This was an important round for me,” added Knox, who has played six Scottish Opens and two Opens in his homeland but has never finished higher than 10th in any of those outings.

“I’ve been desperate to get some momentum going. I know that St Andrews is always scoreable in this format and I knew that the conditions were decent and the pins were going to be relatively easy. It was a day to attack.”

He may play most of his golf in the US but the techniques of golf in the auld haunts of hame never leave him. “Even in the US, my first instinct is a links shot,” he said. “It’s in my blood.”


Walters, the 38-year-old South African, has not finished higher than 26th on the European Tour this season but a nine-birdie, bogey-free 63 had him occupying a lofty perch.

It’s been a tough year, professionally, physically and personally for Walters but some comfort has been found in the game’s cradle.

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“I got to the Irish Open and tore my hamstring really badly and after getting over that I then lost my dad,” said Walters, who leads by a shot from Victor Perez, Adrian Otaegui, Jordan Smith and Ryan Fox.

“It was hard but I decided not to feel sorry for myself, dust myself off and come here. It has a healing quality.”

Ramsay, fresh from a sixth place finish in the BMW PGA Championship last week, continued that sprightly form with a seven-under showing at Kingbarns.

“This is my seventh week in a row on the tour but I’m just just feeding off Wentworth and trying to keep the foot down,” said Ramsay, who was joint second in the Dunhill Links back in 2014.