Given all the hoopla, the ­remorseless scrutiny and the general commotion that surrounds Tiger Woods and the golfing circus he generates, actually being put out in a group with him on the first day of

an Open Championship just about requires you to wear chain mail and

a protective codpiece.

This time last year, Russell Knox, who had just won the Irish Open a couple of weeks earlier, was steeling himself for an opening day tee-time

in the company of this golfing megastar at Carnoustie.

Tomorrow, he’ll be off in a slightly more under-the-radar three ball alongside Haotong Li and newly crowned Scottish Open champion Bernd Wiesberger.

Knox won’t mind that as he looks to improve on an Open record that has seen him miss three cuts in four appearances.

Twelve months ago, he departed early after a pair of 73s. Wood, in contrast, would plough on to the point where he was actually leading for a couple of holes on a fraught final day, only to slither back as the ­peerless Francesco Molinari stood firm to conquer.

Nevertheless, it was another glimpse that the Tiger was on his

way back. Having got up close and personal with Woods for the first two days, Knox had an inkling, too, that the former world No.1 was poised to roar again.

“I sensed he was on his way back,” said Knox as he continued his fine-tuning ahead of the 148th championship. “I remember on the Friday, he hit this 3 or 4 iron from 250 yards to the middle of the green. It was one of the moments of my life.

“Being in that group was full on and that’s the environment you want to be in. I was still on cloud nine after my victory in Ireland but I just wish I had played better. It was still a career moment for me, though.

“I had played a lot in the lead-up to last year’s Open and was running on fumes after Ireland. But I haven’t been that way this year so I can’t use that as an excuse this week.”

Despite his brace of PGA Tour wins that helped hoist him to a career high of 18 in the world, Knox, who now sits 73rd on the global pecking order, has struggled to make an impact in the majors.

The Inverness exile has played 16 in total and has missed the cut in 10 of them. His best finish, meanwhile, was a tie for 12th in last year’s US Open. It remains a body of work that he is keen on improving.

“That’s the next goal, to get in contention in the majors,” he added. “I wasn’t too far off being right there in the US Open last year. Every

part of my game I feel just needs to

get a little better.

“But I am not a million miles away. The good thing I have tucked away is that when I’m playing good I seem to reach another level which I have proved to myself a lot down the years. I just need to do that more often.”

Knox missed the cut in last week’s Scottish Open at The Renaissance in a low-scoring bonanza in which you had to blast more birdies than a grouse shoot on the Glorious Twelfth to get yourself in contention

This week’s affair should be a different kettle of fish and the rigours, perils and pitfalls of the redoubtable Dunluce links here at Portrush is a challenge that is being eagerly anticipated.

The fact the weather forecast is

not what you’d call glorious is not causing Knox any great concerns either.

“Everything about my game

wasn’t very good at the Scottish Open,” Knox conceded of that ­premature exit from East Lothian.

“The harder I tried the worse I got. Ultimately the par 5s were playing pretty easy and I just didn’t take care of these easy birdies.

“On a few of the trickier holes I

hit some bad shots. I was just miles

of the mark.

“I tend to do better when the ­conditions are very difficult and the courses are difficult. When it’s kind of a birdie-fest, it levels everyone out a little bit.”

Not being in the Tiger tumult might help him too.