(Reuters) - Little-known Briton Russell Knox birdied four of his last eight holes to upstage some of the game’s biggest names by grabbing an early one-shot lead in the first round of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on Thursday.
A rookie on the PGA Tour last year, Knox fired a six-under-par 64 in mainly sunny conditions on the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club, one of three venues being used this week.
The 27-year-old Scot covered his back nine in three-under to finish a stroke in front of South Korean Noh Seung-yul and Americans Matt Every and Ted Potter Jr., who carded matching five-under 67s.
Noh, who briefly led by one shot before bogeying his last two holes, started out at Spyglass Hill while Every and Potter both played on the hosting Pebble Beach Golf Links.
Former world number one Lee Westwood, making his first PGA Tour start of the year, opened with a 68 on the Pebble Beach layout while defending champion Phil Mickelson was among the late starters.
Englishman Westwood, who is being partnered by his father John in the pro-am celebrity event, was delighted with his round.
“There’s a long way to go but I’m off to a nice start, a 68, and I don’t think that does you any damage on any of these golf courses,” the 39-year-old told Golf Channel after mixing five birdies with a lone bogey.
Asked how much he enjoyed playing with his father on one of the game’s most iconic layouts, Westwood replied: “It’s the biggest thrill. This is going to be one of the great weeks of the year for me.
“We didn’t play Pebble (Beach) in the practice rounds because I have played it in so many U.S. Opens and things like that, so that was my Dad’s first look at it.
“Nothing prepares you for playing holes like six, seven, eight, nine and 10, I don’t think. The first time you play them, you can’t stop looking around at the breathlessness of the surroundings.”
Westwood’s father, a former mathematics teacher who introduced his son to the game shortly before he turned 13, applauded his partner’s form in the opening round.
“He played pretty well today,” Westwood senior said before adding with a grin: “You can see where he got his swing from, though, when you look at me. He copies everything I do.”
Twice Pebble Beach National Pro-Am champion Dustin Johnson made a poor start with a three-over 73 at Monterey Peninsula while triple major winner Padraig Harrington of Ireland opened with a 72 at Spyglass Hill.
American left-hander Mickelson, who clinched his 41st PGA Tour title by four shots at last week’s Phoenix Open, was two under for the day after 15 holes at Monterey Peninsula.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue