Russell Knox's Ryder Cup snub could leave a sour taste in the Scotsman's mouth, and rightfully so: the 31 year old would have automatically qualified had he been a member of the European Tour in 2015. Instead Knox, who's seventh in the FedEx Cup and the 20th ranked player in the world, will be watching the Hazeltine proceedings from the sidelines in favor of Thomas Pieters (41st in the world), Lee Westwood (46th) and Martin Kaymer (50th). Knox could use this omission as incentive to make the 2018 European team. Or Knox could go a more drastic, yet totally plausible, route:
He could switch to the American side.
Knox, who possesses dual citizenship in Scotland and the United States, could theoretically be eligible for the red, white and blue. Under the PGA of America's guidelines regarding a player's nationality qualification:
-- A competitor will be considered a National of a country if the competitor is a citizen of the country, as defined by the laws of such country.
-- A competitor who is a National of two of more countries at the same time may represent either one of them, as the competitor may elect.
Mentioned above, Knox wasn't a member of the European Tour last season, and, according to his bio in the circuit's media guide, “Decided to take up European Tour Membership for 2016 and attempt to qualify for the European Ryder Cup Team for Hazeltine." A position that seemingly gives Knox zero counter.
HOWEVER, there is a provision that gives Knox hope:
"A competitor who is a National of two or more countries at the same time may represent either one of them, as the competitor may elect. However, after having represented one country in an International Golf Competition, the competitor may not represent another country unless first meeting the conditions set forth below that apply to persons who have changed their nationality or acquired a new nationality.
"A competitor who has represented one country in an International Golf Competition, and who has changed nationality or acquired a new nationality, may participate in another International Golf Competition representing the new country provided that as the start of the qualification period for such event, at least four years have passed since the competitor last represented his/her former country. This period may be extended, reduced or even cancelled, with the agreement of the sanctioning organization, which takes into account the circumstances of each case and any applicable guidelines and standards provided by the IGF. "
Basically, Knox would have to petition to switch flags in the eyes of golf. Improbable, yes; impossible, no.
There is no indication yet that Knox would ask for such a change. But, if you thought the Ryder Cup was already heated, the possibility of a Benedict Arnold/Adam Banks turn would undoubtedly fan those flames.