Knox Leads Hojgaard by 1 Shot in Valero Texas Open by Starting With a 65

Russell Knox of Scotland must win the Valero Texas Open to earn a berth in the Masters next week and he’s off to a good start. 

The 36-year-old Knox shot a bogey-free, 7-under-par 65 to take a one-stroke lead over Rasmus Hojgaard of Denmark after the first round of the Valero Texas Open on the Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas. 

“I would love to win and get to play next week,” said Knox, who has won seven times as a pro and twice on the PGA Tour. “That’s obviously why I’m here and everyone should be playing. I know my game is good, so I’ve got to keep playing and see if I can have a great finish. 

“Obviously, I’m thrilled with the round. It’s been more of the way I want to play. Yeah, I’m obviously thrilled with the round. I took care of business off the tee, which was nice. If you get offline, it can be very penal. 

“So, I drove the ball well, iron play was solid again and had a couple of those momentum moments. I had chip-in on No. 7, good up-and-down on six, great up-and-down on nine, key putts allowed me to kind of settle into the back nine and have some easier birdies.” 

Knox, whose last victory came in the 2018 Dubai Duty Free Open, chipped in for two of his seven birdies, including from 20 feet on the 15th hole, made three birdies on the front nine and four in a row through No. 15 on the way home. 

Hojgaard, 21, who has won three times on what is now the DP World Tour including the 2021 Omega European Masters, might have held the lead except that he made a double-bogey 6 while finishing on the ninth hole after recording six birdies and an eagle in his 66. 

“I didn’t feel like I hit that bad of a tee shot, (but) I had to chip sideways back into the fairway,” Hojgaard said of his final hole. “Had, I think, 133 meters to the flag, just was a little too aggressive with that shot.  

“Yeah, I short-sided myself and I didn’t get up-and-down, and suddenly you walk away with a double bogey. Yeah, that was a bit annoying, but it happens.” 

J.J. Spaun of Los Angles eagled the No. 8 and birdied three of the first for on the back nine to shoot 67 and is tied for third with Denny McCarthy, Aaron Rai of England and Matt Kuchar, who birdied four of the last five holes. 

Said Kooch, who has seven top-25 finishes in this tournament, including a tie for second in 2007: “This course is one of my favorites out on Tour. There’s a lot of … good and bad that can happen here. I feel like this place really punishes the bad shots, but it’s a type of course that it rewards good quality shots.” 

Brendan Steele of Idyllwild and UC Riverside, the 2011 winner of the Texas Open, had three birdies coming home in a 68 and is in a large tie for seventh with Matt Jones of Australia, Anirban Lahiri of India, Luke List, Henrik Norlander of Sweden, Ryan Palmer, David Skinns of England, Scott Stallings, Austin Smotherman, Brendon Todd and Peter Uihlein. 

Defending champion Jordan Spieth made only one birdie while finishing at 72 and is in a tie for 72nd that includes ninth-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, while Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, who will defend his Masters title next week at Augusta, is tied for 104th at 74. 

For complete results, visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html   

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