For Russell Knox, the Tiger Effect lasted one day.
As a kid growing up in Scotland, Knox viewed Tiger Woods as one of his sports heroes. He finally got to play with the 14-time major championship winner this week when the two were in the same group for the first two rounds of the British Open.
Knox acknowledged being nervous about playing with Woods on Thursday, but that faded by Friday’s round.
“I didn’t feel anything like that today,” said Knox, whose father is from San Diego. “The conditions were so hard. Yeah, I was over it.
“Tiger?” he said with a laugh. “Who’s that?”
Both had solid but unspectacular rounds. Knox went 73-73 to finish at four over par. Woods shot two even-par rounds of 71. The cut is projected at plus-three.
“You’re only going to ever get to play the first time with him once, and that was mine,” Knox said. “We chatted away. He was nice to me. I was nice to him, I think. So I enjoyed my time out there. I enjoyed watching him play. He’s Tiger Woods for a reason. He hit some incredible shots and just picked his way around the course well.”
Knox said it was important for him to get the butterflies out of the way.
Then, with another laugh: “Next time I’ll bury him.”
Fore! On the second hole Friday, Woods’ tee shot landed in the right rough, and he had the choice of punching out into the fairway or trying to hit over the gallery that was right in front of him and pressed against the ropes. The crowd ignored the warnings of marshals to stand back, thinking surely that one of the world’s best golfers could clear them, even though Woods was hitting out of the tall grass from an uneven lie.
In a gasp-worthy moment, Woods ripped a shot that sailed low and into the crowd from point-blank range. Clearly, some people were hit, as the ball dribbled forward with far less velocity, but there were no apparent serious injuries.
“I kept moving them back,” Woods said later. “If you noticed, I moved them back about 40 yards. Yeah, I was playing for the grass to wrap the shaft around there and hit it left, and I was just trying to hold the face open as much as I possibly could. It grabbed the shaft and smothered it.
“I was very, very fortunate that it got far enough down there where I had a full wedge into the green.”
And those fans in the line of fire were even more fortunate.
Strokes aplenty: Jovan Rebula was just happy to be here, and that’s good because the South African amateur shot a pair of 79s and missed the cut at 16 over.
Playing in his first major championship, Rebula had his best friend, Angus Cole, caddying for him, and the two left with some good memories.