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Knost’s late heroics win U.S. Amateur

By ERIC SODERSTROM
Managing Editor/Golfweek.com

SANFRANCISCO – For a while there Sunday morning during the finals of the107th U.S. Amateur, Colt Knost couldn’t get anything to drop. Putts, inparticular.

That changed as the day wore on. In the center of acouple thousand people gathered around the 17th green at Olympic Club’sLake Course later Sunday afternoon, Knost reached out and grabbed theHavemeyer Trophy from USGA president Walter Driver. He lifted thegolden cup into the air so quickly its lid slid off and fell tothe ground.

Click here for Golfweek’s U.S. Amateur photo slideshows.

MichaelThompson, already looking forward to next year’s Masters and U.S. Openand maybe the Walker Cup in two weeks time, had conceded the hole and2-and-1 victory to Knost minutes earlier, ending Knost’s week with onespectacular statistic: He dropped just as many trophy lids this week ashe did putts on the 18th hole.

Knost only reached the 18th holeonce during match play, and only because Sunday’s match was scheduledfor 36 holes. He said his goal all week was to get things over before16, a hole that he had learned stay away from earlier in the week.

But hedidn’t have to putt Sunday at No. 18, where used the flatstick only during stroke-play qualifying. His 6-footer for birdie was conceded,giving him a 1-up lead heading into lunch.

That he eventuallybecame only the second person to win both the U.S. Amateur and U.S.Amateur Public Links titles in the same year is also something toremember.

“With the Public Links, I think that got me onto theWalker Cup team,” said Knost, who leaves next week with his teammatesfor two weeks in Ireland. “That was a big step for me confidence-wise.Because that was my first big amateur, really big amateur win.

“And then this one is the ultimate, and to cap off the summer like this, I couldn’t draw it up any better.”

Hislines seemed crooked early, even if they didn’t hurt him. Most of theputts Knost missed in the morning only kept his lead from growing, likewhen he rimmed out a 5-footer for par on No. 8 that would have givenhim a 2-up lead. The match went all square instead when he bogeyed No.9.

“This week was a pretty poor putting week for me, I feellike,” said Knost, the 22-year-old from Dallas who recently finishedout his college career at SMU.

“Obviously I made some comingdown the stretch today, but overall I struggled a lot. I missed a lotof short ones out there today. But then I made them when it counted.”

Knostreturned to the eighth tee during the afternoon session with the matchall square. He sailed an 8-iron to the back of the green, about 7 feetfrom the cup. Thompson, heading into his senior year at Alabama,stuffed his tee shot a foot closer, but missed his putt on the highside.

Knost got his revenge, rolling his putt this time into the center of the cup.

“Thatwas pretty much the same putt I had for par this morning that I missed,except it was just a little bit longer,” said Knost, who switched to abelly putter in February. “And I buried that one.”

They halvedthe next two holes, before morning Knost crept back into the pictureand three-putted from 55 feet. The match was again all square, whichseemed a perfect time for Knost to take over the match.

Heone-putted two of the next three holes, and didn’t need a putt inbetween. He rolled in a 15-footer for birdie on the par-3 13th to go 1up, chipped in for birdie on the par-4 14th and after fluffing his chipon the par-3 15th, drained a par-saving 10-footer that was probably thebiggest putt of the match.

Because he had been pulling most ofhis putts Sunday, Knost said he moved the ball further back in hisstance on 13. “And hit a perfect putt there,” he said.

On 14,his caddie Steve Molinelli, a four-time Olympic Club club champion whocarried around a horseshoe all week for luck, told him he was due for achip-in. “And I had come so close all week I finally just drained one,”he said.

If Knost’s par-saving putt on 15 hadn’t dropped withThompson already in for par, the match probably would’ve been allsquare heading to 17 because Knost had played 16 bad all week. He lostthe hole again Sunday afternoon when Thompson made birdie.

ButThompson’s approach to 17 sailed right of the green into a testy patchof grass. When his pitch landed short of the green, Thompson knew itwas over. After his Hail Mary pitch rolled past the hole and he missedthe ensuing putt, he extended a conceding handshake to Knost, who shookhis head in disbelief.

“(I’m) almost just kind of relieved theweek is over,” said Thompson, who will find out by Monday morning if heis one of the final two players selected for the U.S. Walker Cup team.“I’m not terribly disappointed that I lost. Runner-up sounds prettydarn good.”

• • •

Eric Soderstrom is the managing editor of Golfweek.com. To reach him email [email protected]

Final results from the U.S.Amateur, played Aug. 20-26 at the par-70, 6,948-yard Lake Course atthe Olympic Club in San Francisco:

FINAL
Colt Knost def. Michael Thompson 2 and 1

SEMIFINALS
Michael Thompson def. Casey Clendenon 3 and 2 Colt Knost def. Jhonattan Vegas 4 and 3

QUARTERFINALS
Michael Thompson def. Derek Fathauer 5 and 4 Casey Clendenon def. Eddie Olson 4 and 3 Jhonattan Vegas def. Cheng Tsung Pan 3 and 1 Colt Knost def. Nick Taylor 5 and 4

THIRD ROUND
Derek Fathauer def. Jason Kokrak 6 and 4 Michael Thompson def. David McDaniel 2 and 1 Eddie Olson def. Sihwan Kim 19 holes Casey Clendenon def. Andrew Putnam 4 and 3 Jhonattan Vegas def. Kyle Dickey 6 and 4 Cheng Tsung Pan def. Derek Ernst 5 and 4 Colt Knost def. George Zahringer 2 and 1 Nick Taylor def. Jamie Lovemark 3 and 2

SECOND ROUND
Jason Kokrak def. Mark Harrell 2 and 1 Derek Fathauer def. Chris Kirk 7 and 6 Michael Thompson def. Bryce Ledford 20 holes David McDaniel def. Kyle Stanely 1 up Sihwan Kim def. Trevor Murphy 4 and 2 Eddie Olson def. Gene Elliott 4 and 2 Casey Clendenon def. Jonathan Hodge 2 and 1 Andrew Putnam def. Chris Kennedy 3 and 1 Jhonattan Vegas def. Jon Curran 7 and 5 Kyle Dickey def. Nathan Tyler 3 and 1 Derek Ernst def. Travis Howe 3 and 1 Cheng Tsung Pan def. Ji Moon 1 up Colt Knost def. Brendan Gielow 3 and 2 George Zahringer def. Ricky Jones 2 up Jamie Lovemark def. Josh Dupont
19 holes Nick Taylor def. Kyle Ellis 5 and 4

FIRST ROUND
Jason Kokrak def. A.J. Oleksak 2 and 1 Mark Harrell def. Phil Hendrickson 2 and 1 Chris Kirk def. Joseph Bramlett 19 holes Derek Fathauer def. Randy Haag 1 up Bryce Ledford def. Daniel Kefale 3 and 2 Michael Thompson def. Webb Simpson 5 and 3 Kyle Stanley def. Jon Bettencourt 5 and 3 David McDaniel def. James Sacheck 1 up Trevor Murphy def. Josh Anderson 20 holes Sihwan Kim def. Marius Thorp 1 up Gene Elliott def. Andy Mickelson 7 and 6 Eddie Olson def. Harris English 19 holes Casey Clendenon def. Danny Lee 1 up Jonathan Hodge def. Craig Smith 3 and 2 Chris Kennedy def. Kevin Schultz 4 and 3 Andrew Putnam def. Chase Cooper 21 holes Jon Curran def. Alex Prugh 19 holes Jhonattan Vegas def. Clfford Blanchard 3 and 2 Kyle Dickey def. Matthew Marshall 1 up Nathan Tyler def. Chris Rockwell 4 and 2 Travis Howe def. Drew Weaver 4 and 3 Derek Ernst def. Billy Horschel 4 and 3 Ji Moon def. Eric Onesi 1 up Cheng Tsung Pan def. Jay Moseley 2 and 1 Brendan Gielow def. David Merkow 3 and 2 Colt Knost def. Jonathon Schram 2 and 1 George Zahringer def. Gary Wolstenholme 1 up Ricky Jones def. Dustin Johnson 1 up Josh Dupont def. Cameron Tringale 19 holes Jamie Lovemark def. Estanislao Goya 3 and 2 Nick Taylor def. Derek Sipe 5 and 3 Kyle Ellis def. Bud Cauley 19 holes
• • •

Click here for scores from stroke-play qualifying.

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