A historic albatross sparked Russell Knox into life as the Scottish No 1 made a promising start in the Valspar Championship, the final leg of the PGA Tour’s Florida Swing.
Knox turned in 38, two-over, after taking a double-bogey 6 at the ninth before storming home in 29, six-under, on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbour.His 67 left him sitting a shot off the lead, held by American Joel Dahmen and Austrian Sepp Straka.
The highlight of Knox’s round was undoubtedly his second at the par-5 11th as he holed a 3-wood from 275 yards for the first albatross in the history of the event, which is being staged for the 19th year.
Boosted by that, the Invernesian then birdied the 13th, 14th and 16th to turn his day around in spectacular fashion.
“I mean, a massive bonus, obviously,” Knox told pgatour.com afterwards. “It’s really cool to have an albatross.
“I think it’s a bigger deal to have a hole-in-one, to be honest – even though it (an albatross) is more under par.
“It’s great to go from plus-two to minus-one in one hole. That changes your outlook of the day real quick.”
It was the second albatross of his career, the first one having coming at Nairn Dunbar playing in a junior medal.
“It was a shortish par-5, just under 500 yards,” he added. “But you couldn’t see, you kind of hit up over a hill and there’s a huge gully in the green and it went in.
“I actually looked out of bounds over the green before I even looked into the hole then, so that was nice to go in.
“I think I actually won the little tiny tournament by one shot, too.”
Knox needs a big finish in either this event of next week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Texas to climb into the world’s top 50 in time to secure a spot in the Masters in three weeks’ time.
Former world No 1 Luke Donald matched the Scot’s opening effort, as did American Kevin Kisner.
Dustin Johnson had a 69, as did Jim Furyk as last year’s US Ryder Cup captain took up where he left off when finishing second to Rory Mcilroy in The Players Championship last weekend.
Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington was delighted with his return to competitive action in the Maybank Championship in Malaysia.
Playing his first event since November after breaking a bone in his wrist, Harrington carded a two-under 70 in in Kuala Lumpur to lie five shots off the lead shared by Australia’s Marcus Fraser and Spain’s Nacho Elvira.
“I didn’t hit it very well, especially off the tee I really struggled, so it was a really good score. I’m delighted,” said Harrington.David Law, the Vic Open champion, signed for a 73, a shot better than compatriot Stephen Gallacher, leaving the two Scots in the field with work on their hands in the second round to make the halfway cut.
Gemma Dryburgh produced a confidence-boosting opening effort in the LPGA’s Bank of Hope Founders Cup in Arizona.
The Aberdonian carded a two-under-par 70 to sit in a tie for 46th, two shots inside the projected cut.
She had three birdies, with her only dropped shot coming at the par-3 17th.
Catriona Matthew birdied that hole but the Solheim Cup captain had a triple-bogey 7 on her card, as well as two bogeys.
She had to settle for a three-over 75 and is tied for 128th heading into the second round.
Frenchwoman Celine Boutier leads on 64, a shot ahead of a group that includes England’s Charlotte Thomas and Dane Nanna Koerstz Madsen.
Scottish international Ryan Lumsden has been named one of five finalists for the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) Byron Nelson Award.
The Northwestern senior is up against Braden Bailey (Baylor), Nick Ludka (Kalamazoo), Collin Morikawa (Cal) and Brandon Wu (Stanford) for the prestigious prize.
Candidates for the award must be a graduating senior, with the selection committee considering a nominee’s entire collegiate academic and golf career in equal measure, aswell as his character and integrity while in college.
Lumsden, runner-up to Sam Locke in the 2017 Scottish Amateur, is the fifth golfer from Northwestern to be under consideration for the award.
He qualified for last year’s US Open at Shinnecock Hills before representing Scotland in the Eisenhower Trophy at Carton House in Ireland.
Aboyne’s Shannon McWilliam sits eight shots off the lead in joint-ninth after opening rounds of 72-76 in the Italian International Ladies Amateur at Golf Is Molas in Sardinia.
Hazel McGarvie is next best among the Scots in the field sitting just outside the top 40 on 12-over (78-78), with Connie Jaffrey (82-78) and Louise Duncan (82-80) on 16-over and 18-over respectively.
England’s Lily May Humphreys carded a second consecutive 70 to lead on four-under, a shot ahead of home player Alessia Nobilo.
Jane Turner, winner of the Superport Ladies Challenge at the end of last month, has secured another pay-day on the Sunshine Ladies Tour in South Africa.
The Dalmahoy player made the cut in the latest event on the circuit, the Jabra Ladies Classic at Glendower Golf Club, following rounds of 76 and 77.
Action for Children and Perthshire Women’s Aid are to be the “official charity partners” of this year’s Solheim Cup at Gleneagles.
With its Scottish HQ in Glasgow, Action for Children has been appointed following a selection process led by the Scottish Government.
Perthshire Women’s Aid, based in Perth, was nominated by Perth & Kinross Council and Gleneagles as the host region.
“Charity should be a hugely important component of any socially responsible major event and I’m delighted that the 2019 Solheim Cup will be raising funds for these two deserving charitable organisations,” said Joe FitzPatrick, Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing.