Russell Knox breaks par on debut in Hawaii event

Russell Knox. Picture: Getty

Russell Knox. Picture: Getty

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Russell Knox finished the day inside the top 20 as playing partners Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth lit up the opening round of the PGA Tour’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.

Making his debut in the event on the Plantation Course in Kapalua, Knox fired a two-under-par 71 to sit tied for 19th in the 32-man field made up of winners from the US circuit in 2015.

The 30-year-old Scot was up among the early leaders following a flawless front nine that saw him pick up three birdies - at the third, fifth and ninth.

He then dropped his first shot of the day at the tenth before sandwiching a double-bogey at the par-4 16th with birdies at the 15th and 17th.

The effort saw Knox, who earned his place in the field by winning the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai last November, finish the opening round as the best-placed British player.

He is four shots ahead of Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell, the Florida-based player’s conqueror in a play-off in Mexico the week after that win in China.

Reed, the defending champion, struck four birdies and an eagle in the final six holes to set the pace with an eight-under 65.

The four-time PGA Tour winner was well down the leaderboard after turning on two under, but was in scintillating form on the back nine, reeling off birdies at the 13th, 14th and 15th holes.

After hitting par at the 16th, he was back in the red with another birdie before bringing his round to a close with an eagle on the par 5 18th. He came home in just 31 shots, six under par.

Reed’s playing partner and world No 1 Spieth finished one shot behind on seven-under after another blemish-free round, registering seven birdies.

Brandt Snedeker, J.B Holmes and Danny Lee are all placed on six under while two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson is a further two behind after shooting 69.

World No 2 Jason Day did not enjoy as productive days as Reed and Spieth, but is still well-placed thanks to a bogey-free three under.

Two-time Open champion Padraig Harrington is sitting alongside the Australian, though the Irishman dropped a shot at the last.

Elsewhere, Craigielaw’s Grant Forrest slipped down the leaderboard in the third round of the Australian Master of the Amateurs at Royal Melbourne.

Joint-eighth at halfway, the 22-year-old Craigielaw player is now eight off the pace following a 76 that was a real mixed bag containing an eagle, three birdies, two double-bogeys and four bogeys.

Now sitting tied for 17th on four-over, Forrest is a shot ahead of compatriot Connor Syme after the Drumoig player carded a one-over 73.

Barassie’s Jack McDonald matched that effort to sit joint-35th on seven-over, two ahead of Ewen Ferguson after the Bearsden player signed for a 74.

American Aaron Wise is the new leader heading into the final round, taking over the top spot with a 68 for a four-under-par 212 total.

He leads by a shot from England’s Jonathan Thomson (68) with Australian pair Andrew Schonewille and (70) and Thomas Power Horan (71) a shot further back.

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