Back in 2009, I was co-opening the newly refurbished (pre-Trumpian) Turnberry Hotel on the eve of The Open Championship with one of my all-time heroes, Tom Watson. I asked the great man how he was hitting the ball and he answered “good”. I asked him how he was putting and he said “really good”. As his calm confidence started to get infectious, I popped the real question: “Could you win this week?”. And he answered: “Yes I could.”

The idea of a 59-year-old winning The Open was beyond anyone’s compass but this was Tom Watson and I had been on these Ailsa links, as a student, some 30 years before, when he had emerged victorious over Jack Nicklaus in their epic “Duel in the Sun”.

And, long before that as a lad, I had watched Scotland’s own John Panton, at the age of 55, score the only sub-par final round in the 1970 Open at St Andrews, navigating his way through a hooley.

In other words, I knew what was possible if a golfer is of real quality. Age is not an impenetrable barrier to a really beautiful game.

Thus I placed a bet on Watson at enormous odds to pull off the greatest sporting achievement of the century, a miracle which would have come to pass but for an blasphemous hard bounce taking his heavenly eight-iron through the last green.

I could hardly speak for a full day afterwards and like to think that the crushing disappointment was as much due to Watson’s cruel luck as opposed to what might have been in personal financial terms.

Why does all of this come to mind now? Well, I watched an interview with newly crowned Irish Open champion Russell Knox on Sunday. He was fresh from sinking two huge puts on the final green – the first to secure a play-off and the second to win the title. His interview afterwards reminded me of something and then it came to me that the Scot was radiating exactly that same 2009 Watsonian Zen-like assurance in his ability and in the condition of his golf game.

Asked to look forward to the return to his homeland this week for the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open and next week for The Open at Carnoustie Russell simply said: “I’m playing well , really well.”

In other words, the key thing was not the difficulty of the courses, the quality of the fields or the enormity of these championships – it was about how well he is playing, the sole aspect that he, and he alone, can determine.

Now, Russell Knox is not yet a Tom Watson and perhaps he never will be. But he is the form golfer of the summer, following up a high finish at the US Open with second place at the French Open two weeks ago and then last weekend’s triumph in Donegal.

There is an old saying in golf to “beware the play of the injured golfer” but one in high form is much more dangerous. In addition, the normally mild-mannered Russell carries his own grievance in that he was unjustly passed over for Ryder Cup selection two years ago, despite being in the world’s top 20. This time round, he intends to put selection beyond doubt or prejudice.

Knox has the sort of swing that can win big titles – compact, simple and very reliable under pressure. He has the temperament of a champion, considered and understated. Indeed, his fist pump on the final Irish green was just about the most animated Knox that anyone has ever seen.

Above all, he is an instinctive feel putter. When he arrived at the 18th green in the play-off last Sunday, and saw his ball some 30ft left of the flag and in a virtually identical position to where he had holed out in regulation play, his entire demeanour was that of someone who knew he was about to drill another one home.

This sort of player operates on putting streaks and right now his short stick is a wand of which Harry Potter would be proud.

Knox is available at 20-1 to win at Gullane this week and 66-1 to triumph at Carnoustie. Not quite the 150–1 that I secured on Tom Watson all of those years ago but very tasty none the less – it is a case of opportunity Knox.

My hairdresser was one of Knox’s very best pals at school in Inverness and a couple of years back at Castle Stuart, this seriously nice and modest guy asked to be fondly remembered to her. Every time he wins another million-dollar pot I tease her on what might have been.

I have a hunch that Siobhan should get set for some more gentle joshing in the very immediate future.