Golf: Unheralded Scot Knox wins WGC-HSBC Champions by 2 shots

Russell Knox tees off on the fifth hole during the final round of the WGC-HSBC Champions golf tournament in Shanghai.
Russell Knox tees off on the fifth hole during the final round of the WGC-HSBC Champions golf tournament in Shanghai. PHOTO: REUTERS

SHANGHAI (AFP) - Russell Knox became the first Scotsman ever to win a World Golf Championships event when he held off a world-class field for a two-stroke victory in Shanghai on Sunday.

His final round four-under par 68 at the US$8.5 million (S$11.9 million) WGC-HSBC Champions gave him a total of 268, 20-under par.

Kevin Kisner of the United States was second on 270, with English pair Danny Willett, who shot a final round 62, and Ross Fisher tied for third a further stroke behind.

Knox started the day at 85th in the world golf rankings and could now move into the top 30 when the new standings are announced on Monday.

The 30-year-old form Inverness, who is based in the United States and plays solely on the US PGA Tour, still had to play the final hole of his third round early on Sunday after walking off in bad light after dusk on Saturday.

It proved a timely decision as with weather conditions more benign, he picked up a birdie four to move into a share of the lead.

He carried the momentum through to the final round to card six birdies and two bogeys en route to his maiden victory and the US$1.4 million winner's cheque - by far the biggest pay day of his career.

World No. 2 Jordan Spieth had charged into contention on Saturday with a round of 63 but could not back it up in cooler conditions on Sunday. He registered a 70 for a share of seventh place on 15-under par, along with Chinese 20-year-old sensation Li Haotong.

Li had a torrid start to his final round with a double bogey and three bogeys in his first five holes. But he showed his class and maturity by clawing back to a level-par round of 72, including a chip-in for par at the ninth after finding water that resulted in the biggest cheer of the day from his packed hometown galleries.