As gut-wrenching starts go this was just about as bad as it gets. Four years ago Ernie Els opened up his Masters with seven putts he was yipping and back-handing his way around the hole en route to a nine, at Sawgrass Russell Knox had a look at an opening birdie and walked off with a seven.
The Scot, who lives in the Ponte Vedra Beach area, pulled his par putt but then saw his next take a huge lip out before catching a slice of the hole with his fourth putt.
A tough way to start the tournament.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 12, 2020
The 34-year-old steadied things with eight straight pars but then had a pair of sixes around the turn at the par 5s, to slip to 5-over par, before his resilience was rewarded.
He eagled the short par-4 12th and then had back-t0-back birdies at 16 and 17. In the end it all added up to one of the best 73s ever posted.
“That’s golf. It just kicks you when you’re down but it will pay you back. Golf will always pay you back if you keep doing the right things.”
Knox has a bit of history with Sawgrass and big numbers. In 2016 he hit one of the greatest pipes with his second shot to the 17th before, for his fourth ball, retiring to the drop zone. That sorry chapter ended up with a sextuple-bogey nine and an 80 before responding with a 68 the following day.
On the Sunday he made a more straightforward bogey.
What else happened on day 1?
Hideki Matsuyama equalled the Sawgrass course record with a 63 that included eight birdies, an eagle and a bogey.
But then circumstances changed off the course due to the ongoing coronovirus pandemic, and the PGA Tour decided to call off the remainder of the tournament, as well as the next three tournaments up to the Masters.
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Could the golf ball be rolled back for everyone?