Russell Knox joins Liam Johnston in delivering day to savour for Scottish golf

Scottish players hold lead on both PGA Tour and European Tour

Russell Knox and his caddie line up a putt on the eighth hole during the first round of the Safeway Open at Silverado Resort in Napa, California. Picture: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Russell Knox joined Liam Johnston in delivering a day to savour for Scottish golf as the Saltire sat proudly at the top of leaderboards on both the PGA Tour and European Tour.

Hours after Dumfries man Johnston had carded a career-best 61 to set the pace in the Portugal Masters, Knox produced an equally impressive effort on day one of the Safeway Open in Calfornia.

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In the first event of the new wraparound season, the 35-year-old, a two-time winner on the US circuit, was also bogey-free as he opened with a nine-under-par 63.

The effort, which was illuminated by an eagle at the fifth in a burst of three consecutive 3s on the front nine, was one stroke shy of the Invernesian's career-low on the PGA Tour in the 2014 BMW Championship.

It earned him a one-shot lead over American pair Sam Burns and Bo Hoag, as well as Australian Cameron Percy, in an event also featuring Open champion Shane Lowry and Phil Mckelson.

The flying start marked a welcome return to form for Knox, who missed six cuts in a row after the PGA Tour's restart in June before missing out on the FedEx Cup Play-Offs for the first time in seven years.

"I've worked as hard as I ever have the last two weeks before this event, so it's really nice to see something good happen immediately," said the Florida-based player of gettiing down to some hard grind over the past few weeks with new coach Mark McCann. "I definitely feel like my game is heading in the right direction."

The 2018 Irish Open winner holed putts totalling more than 100 feet and was five-under for the four par-5s at Silverado Resort in Napa as he set the pace on the PGA Tour for just the second time in his career.

"I knew this week that par-5 scoring would be big to your ultimate performance," he added. "I hit a beautiful drive on No. 5 and hit a nice little 3-hybrid in there and managed to get it back there kind of close and made a nice putt.

"Obviously, it was a day where a lot of good things happened and definitely nice to get off to a good start."

In his first start on the circuit since February, fellow Scot Martin Laird also opened on a promising note with a four-under 68 to sit just outside the top 20 alongside Lowry while Mickelson began his US Open warm up with a 70.

Johnston's sensational start in the Portugal Masters also left him leading by a shot from Frenchman Julien Guerrier at Victoria Golf Course in Villamoura.

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