It’s the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open this week, so what does that mean? Yes, that’s right. Talk turns to the Ryder Cup … obviously.

But don’t blame the golf writers. Russell Knox brought up the topic himself. “I’m thinking about the Ryder Cup already. It’s totally changed for me and I’ve had enough of not making the team,” said the Scot of the 2020 transatlantic tussle for which qualifying hasn’t even started yet.

This time last year, the jostling and jousting for a place in Thomas Bjorn’s team for the match in Paris was in full flow and Knox had barged his way into the reckoning with a thrilling victory in the Irish Open. The 34-year-old didn’t make it, though. In 2016, he was overlooked for a wild card by the then European skipper Darren Clarke.

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The Team Europe set-up has always been as close-knit as a sewing bee. There is also a nod-and-wink feeling that it can be as cliquey as a remote village pub when a couple of unwitting tourists walk in and start asking about tales of that werewolf up on the moors.

As a proud Scot, but also an American citizen and long-term resident of Florida, Knox knows he’s hardly on speed dial when it comes to influential movers and shaker within the European Ryder Cup hierarchy.

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“I don’t honestly see ever getting picked,” he said in a frank admission here at The Renaissance on the outskirts of Gullane. “I’m always going to be an outsider. Nothing is ever going to change. I am a US citizen. My dad is. My whole family live over there.

“At the same time, I feel like I am obviously Scottish. I was born here, I grew up here. I know I’m going to have to earn my way on to the team.

“I would say in the last year or so, I’ve become a little friendlier with a few people on the (European) team, which obviously is helpful. But, at the same time, if you play good, you’re going to be on the team even if you’re best friends with everyone or you’re not.

“When my caddie and I sat down at the start of the year, we both said my No.1 goal and his No.1 goal is to make The Ryder Cup Team. Since then, I’ve thought about it every day.

“Because I’ve been close and because I’ve had some nice years now playing, if my career ended without a Ryder Cup, I would regret it. Well, I guess regret is not the right term because I’m trying my hardest every time. But I’d be disappointed if I wasn’t able to do it.”

Knox, the leading Scot on the world rankings at No.70, is enjoying being back on home soil even if the grim, torrential downpours in East Lothian yesterday would have had Noah phoning up the Met Office for an update. “I actually enjoyed slashing it on the range in rain,” he said of a drookit tune up.

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Knox has a brace of top-10 finishes in the Scottish Open in recent seasons. A year ago at Gullane, he was in the hunt going into the final round but sagged to a closing 75 and slithered down the order.

“As you become a better player, then every year the Scottish Open comes around, you’re going to feel more pressure,” added the two-time PGA Tour winner.

“This is obviously the one that I would like to win, right up there with the majors. Your home open is your home open. If I had to pick between winning this week and winning in the US (on the PGA Tour) in a month’s time, this would be it. We’ll try our best.”

Brandon Stone, meanwhile, certainly produced his best 12 months ago as the surging South African roared to victory at Gullane with a barnstorming 60 that left his rivals gasping for breath.

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The 26-year-old had a putt of some eight feet on the last to record the first ever 59 on the European Tour, but the golfing gods were having none of it and he missed.

Nevertheless, it was still quite the grandstand finish for this particular rolling Stone. “I actually took my dad, who wasn’t there last year, to Gullane the other night and I stood on the 18th green and tried to recreate that putt,” said Stone.

“It was cool taking a trip down memory lane. I must say, I got a little bit of the goosebumps walking up and down 18. It’s a very surreal experience going back to a course where you’ve won without the grandstands.

“I mean, I never knew there was a massive tree behind the 18th green at Gullane. I have no recollection of that whatsoever. My dad was like, ‘was this tree here?’.”

And as for having another go at that putt on 18 that could have put him in the record books? “I never even took the putter away. There’s too much emotional scarring,” he chortled.