SAFEWAY OPEN: First round gets underway despite smoky skies

Russell Knox shown at the Silverado North Course at the Safeway Open during the first round at 13th course at the PGA Tournament on Thursday Sep 10th in Napa (AP News photo)

By Jeremy Harness

On Wednesday, golfers practiced under skies that looked more like a movie than real life. We’ll put it this way: During the hours that would normally feature bright sunshine during this time of year, lights had to be flipped on to the practice green.

Because of the numerous fires that have all but surrounded Northern California, the streets have been covered with ash and there has only been a faint view of the sun over the last few days.

Somehow, the first round of the Safeway Open, the first event of the 2020-21 PGA Tour season, got underway at Silverado Golf Resort, although play was delayed by about an hour.

Due to the darker skies, play was called off at 4pm PST, with a few groups left on the course, with those players scheduled to play the remaining hole or two early Friday morning.

However, most were able to finish in time, including Russell Knox, who leads the field after shooting a nine-under bogey-free round of 63. He went five-under on the front nine, including an eagle at the par-5 fifth, and then went on to scatter four more birdies on the back side.

Three guys are only one behind Knox, including relative unknowns Sam Burns, Bo Hoag and Cameron Percy. Burns made three birdies on the front nine and then got hot on the back side. He made three birdies in a row on holes 10 through 12 and then went eagle at the par-5 16th.

His only blemish was on the very next hole, when he made bogey before rebounding with a birdie at the par-5 18th.

Former Safeway Open winner Brendan Steele is among the players at seven-under, along with Pat Perez.

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