Tue, 19 Jan 2021

Knox leads after first round at Mayakoba Golf Classic

Field Level Media
04 Dec 2020, 10:40 GMT+10

Russell Knox holds a one-stroke lead after posting a 6-under 65 on Thursday in the opening round of the Mayakoba Golf Classic at Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

Knox, from Scotland, opened on the back nine at the El Camaleon Golf Club and posted five birdies on the last six holes of his opening nine to grab control.

"Took me a few holes to kind of settle into my round, but when I did, I had six or seven very good holes," Knox said.

Knox has three career top 10 finishes at the event. When asked to explain why he plays well at the Mayakoba, Knox cited the cuisine.

"I don't know. I guess it's the tequila and tacos," he said.

Chile's Joaquin Niemann, Argentina's Emiliano Grillo and American Tom Hoge were all one shot off the pace after shooting opening round 66s on Thursday. Like Knox, the trio all opened on the back nine.

Niemann had three birdies and an eagle on the par-4 No. 7 as he made up ground late in the day. Niemann, only 22, has said he'll donate any prize money he receives this week to support a cousin recently diagnosed with a rare disease.

"It's big for me and for my family in Chile," Niemann said. "Having all the support from all the people here on Tour is really amazing, and also from Mexico. The tournament, they're helping me a lot to tell a little bit more of the story of Rafita, so happy for all the support of the players. We're fighting for him."

Grillo led the field with seven birdies on Thursday. Hoge got off to a hot start with four birdies in his first six holes, including three in a row on hole Nos. 11-13.

A group of eight players were clustered just two back off the lead at 4 under, including Mexico's Carlos Ortiz, who is bidding to become the first native to win the tournament. Also tied for fifth were world-ranked No. 19 Tony Finau and No. 26 Viktor Hovland. Defending champion Brendon Todd was also part of the logjam at 4-under.

The event is the last PGA Tour event of 2020, and the field included seven top 50 players from the world golf rankings, and four of the top 26.

World No. 3 Justin Thomas is in danger of missing the cut however after shooting a 1-over 72 on Thursday and is currently tied for 70th. Brooks Koepka, No. 12, was tied for 56th with an even-par 71.

--Field Level Media

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