Keeping Score

Russell Knox sets pace in PGA Tour’s season opener

Scot shoots bogey-free 9-under 63 for 1-stroke edge in Safeway Open amid smoky surroundings of Northern California

63: First-round score for Scotland’s Russell Knox, who held a one-stroke lead Thursday at the Safeway Open, the PGA Tour’s 2020-21 season-opening event, in Napa, Calif. Knox cruised around Silverado Resort and Spa’s North Course with seven birdies and an eagle, via a 14-foot putt at the par-5 fifth hole, in a bogey-free round. A gloomy gray haze hung over the resort in Wine Country as the state endures its worst wildfires on record, with nearly 3 million acres burned, and the October-November “fire season” is yet to come. Knox, 35, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour, is looking for his first victory on a major pro tour since he won the European Tour’s Irish Open on July 8, 2018. He finished 127th in the FedEx Cup standings in the recently completed season, narrowly missing the 125-man playoffs. That was despite a stretch bridging the three-month suspension during which he missed 10 consecutive cuts. Americans Sam Burns and Bo Hoag and Australian Cameron Percy shared second place at 64. Phil Mickelson, preparing for a return to Winged Foot in New York for next week’s U.S. Open, shot 71 (scores).

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