Knox takes early Texas lead to keep Masters hopes alive

Russell Knox (10/1 – Tournament Outright) admitted he was delighted with his start at the Valero Texas Open after his bogey-free 65 gave him a one-shot lead after the first round to put him in contention for a late invitation to The Masters.

The winner of the tournament at TPC San Antonio will land a last-minute entry to next week’s Masters at Augusta if not already qualified, and Knox falls into that category.

The Scot has made a fine start to his bid as the world number 169 made four straight birdies on the back nine to move one clear of Dane Rasmus Hojgaard (14/1 – Outright), while there is a group of four players tied for third, including Englishman Aaron Rai (28/1), two shots adrift.

Knox said: “I would love to win and get to play next week. 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.”

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Joining Rai on -5 after the first day are American trio Matt Kuchar (20/1), Denny McCarthy (16/1) and JJ Spaun (28/1), while defending champion Jordan Spieth (40/1) and Rory McIlroy (28/1) are both seven shots off the pace after carding level-par 72s.

Speaking about his round on the PGA Tour website, Kuchar said: “A lot of good and bad that can happen here on this course. I was kind of managing early on in the round and then found a little something on about the fifth or sixth hole.

“I started having some birdie chances and converted on a few late in my first nine.”

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