(Reuters) – Scotland’s Russell Knox shot a sparkling nine-under-par 63 to grab a one stroke first-round lead at the season-opening Safeway Open on Thursday as he looks to secure his third win on the PGA Tour.
The 35-year-old feasted on the course’s four par-fives, where he drilled three of his seven birdies and an eagle in a bogey-free round to get his campaign to end a four year title drought off to a solid start.
“Obviously it was a day where a lot of good things happened and definitely nice to get off to a good start,” he said.
“I’ve struggled in first rounds for so long, so one of my main goals this season was to get off to a better start. I didn’t quite expect this, but nice to shoot a good score,” he said.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever actually led after day one in my nine years out here,” he added.
Knox is one shot clear of Americans Sam Burns and Bo Hoag and Australian Cameron Percy, who shot eight-under-par 64s.
Napa Valley is typically sunny this time of year but was covered in a blanket of fog for much of Thursday.
Smoke from nearby wildfires, which had turned the sky an unsettling orange color on Wednesday, still hung in the air on Thursday but was not as strong.
With the FedExCup playoffs having ended on Sunday and the U.S. Open kicking off on Thursday, many of the sport’s top players elected to skip the tournament this year.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Michael Perry)