This is our fourth installment of articles looking back at USGA championships conducted at The Olympic Club, site of the 2012 U.S. Open. This article reflects on Colt Knost's 2007 U.S. Amateur triumph, where the Southern Methodist graduate joined Ryan Moore as the only golfers to have claimed the U.S. Amateur Public Links and U.S. Amateur titles in the same year.
The year was 2007 and Colt Knost was the antithesis of the typical top amateur golfer’s body type: he was short, stocky and a little bit unkempt. Appearances mattered little, though, because the guy could play.
At the 2007 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club, Knost ignored all the naysayers and outlasted Michael Thompson, 2 and 1, in a back-and-forth championship match. What’s more, Knost became the second golfer in history to prevail at the U.S. Amateur Public Links and U.S. Amateur in the same year, joining Ryan Moore, who had achieved the double in 2004.
“You can’t walk 36 holes, you can’t run up the hill on 18, you can’t, you can’t, you can’t,” said Knost’s swing coach Randy Smith, the club professional at Royal Oaks Country Club in Dallas, after witnessing his pupil’s victory. “Well, yes he can!”
“It was definitely one of my best years in golf,” said Knost, who has been a member of the PGA Tour three of the past four years, recently in a telephone interview.
At that time, the Amateur was played on the Lake Course that was set up as a par 70 at 6,948 yards.
“I really feel it’s a ball-striker’s course,” said Knost. “It’s not a course you can overpower. It’s not a tricked-up golf course. Everything is right in front of you.”
Knost qualified in the middle of the pack, seven strokes behind medalist Jason Kokrak. He defeated notables such as George Zahringer, Nick Taylor and Jhonattan Vegas in match play en route to the championship final.
Knost held the lead after the first round of the 36-hole final thanks to a conceded birdie on No. 18. Thompson was able to even the match with a brilliant par on the 247-yard third hole, then took the lead two holes later with a 45-foot par save. However, it would be Thompson’s last shining moment.
“I kept telling myself, ‘It’s 36 holes, just stay patient,’” said Knost.
Knost would take the lead for good on the 31st hole when he drained a 20-foot birdie putt, eliciting a raucous fist pump. One hole later, he chipped in from the left greenside rough for a 2-up margin.
“When I chipped in on 14, I went 2 up with four holes to play,” said Knost. “I thought, ‘All right, I got this.’”
“At that point,” said Thompson later, “I’m thinking I’ve got to give myself birdie opportunities. I’ve got to give myself a chance to win some holes.”
Thompson did slice the deficit in half, on No. 16, when he knocked his approach shot from 118 yards to 3 feet and a tap-in to win the hole.
But Knost, not to be denied, won the 17th hole and the match when Thompson conceded Knost’s par putt.
Knost earned a selection to the USA Walker Cup Team, where he went 2-0-2. As much as the U.S. Amateur triumph meant to him, he said the Walker Cup will always hold a special place in his heart for the camaraderie that he developed with the other players.
Make no mistake, though, the U.S. Amateur was a huge feather in his cap.
“It was such a grueling week both mentally and physically,” said Knost.
When his work was done at The Olympic Club, Knost caught a plane back to Texas and slept the whole way. “I was so tired after that week, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.”
Ken Klavon is the USGA online editor. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.