Knox grabs early Safeway lead; Korda on top at ANA Inspiration - GulfToday

Knox grabs early Safeway lead; Korda on top at ANA Inspiration

Russell Knox

Russell Knox in action during the first round of the Safeway Open PGA tournament in Napa, California, on Thursday. Associated Press

San Francisco: Scotland’s Russell Knox fired a bogey-free nine-under-par 63 to seize the lead in Thursday’s opening round of the PGA Safeway Open, the first round of the 2020-21 season.

Knox’s round was the lowest in the first 18 holes at the Silverado Country Club in Napa, California, since Scott Piercy’s 62 in 2016.

Australian Cameron Percy, who closed with three consecutive birdies, and Americans Sam Burns and Bo Hoag shared second on 64 with Americans Brendan Steele and Pat Perez on 65 when play was halted by darkness.

The 15 players still on the course when play was halted will finish their opening round Friday morning before starting their second round.

The event, delayed by an hour for morning fog, was played with air quality monitoring and an orange haze in the sky due to wildfires burning in areas of northern California.

Knox seeks his third US PGA title after wins in 2015 at the WGC Shanghai event and in 2016 at the Travelers Championship. After sinking an 11-foot birdie putt at the fourth, Knox reached the green in two at the par-5 fifth and sank a 14-foot eagle putt, then dropped his approach inside six feet at the sixth to set up another birdie. Knox closed the front nine with a birdie putt from 2 1/2 feet then began the back side with a 10-foot birdie putt and dropped in another birdie from 31 feet at the 12th.

He closed with birdies at the par-5 16th and 18th holes, each from about four feet, to stand alone atop the leaderboard.

Knox hit 11 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens in regulation and didn’t miss a putt inside of 10 feet.

Meanwhile, Nelly Korda closed with a five-foot birdie putt to fire a six-under par 66 and seize a one-stroke lead after Thursday’s opening round of the LPGA ANA Inspiration tournament.

The 22-year-old American daughter of Czech tennis star Petr Korda, the 1998 Australian Open champion, whose best showing in the event was a share of 13th, said hot summer desert conditions had made the course different from its usual April set-up but no less formidable.

South Korean Chun In-gee, whose major titles include the 2015 US Women’s Open and 2016 Evian Championship, and Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom, whose only win came in January at Boca Rio, were second on 67.

Agence France-Presse

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