With his Texas-style name and his Texas-sized game, Dallas native Colt Knost capped off a memorable summer and joined an elite list of golfers by winning the U.S. Amateur Championship at the Olympic Club in San Francisco on Sunday.
Knost defeated Michael Thompson 2-and-1 in a tightly contested 36-hole match-play championship final in which neither player led by more than two holes. By virtue of his previous victory in the U.S. Amateur Public Links earlier this summer, Knost became just the sixth golfer in history to hold two U.S. Golf Association titles, and only the second to win both the Public Links and Amateur Championship.
“It’s been an unbelievable summer, USGA-wise,” said Knost, who will play for the U.S. amateur team in the Walker Cup against Ireland and Great Britain in September. “This is the ultimate goal, always every summer to win the U.S. Amateur, and I finally got one.”
Even though neither player sustained any sort of sizable lead in the final, Knost seemed in control in the afternoon session, especially after birdying the 18th hole in the morning to head into the final 18 holes up one.
Thompson briefly regained the lead after the fifth hole in the afternoon session by draining a 40-foot putt for birdie, but Knost immediately seized back the momentum by tying the match on the sixth hole, and he would not trail again.
Although he was visibly frustrated with his short game in the afternoon session, Knost stayed composed down the back nine and helped seal his second amateur title of the summer with several exhibits of clutch putting.
With the final match all square through 30 holes, Knost sank a 20-foot putt for birdie on the par-3, 186-yard 13th hole. Thompson had to settle for par, breaking the last tie of the championship.
“On 13, I decided to change a little something in my putting, because I’ve been struggling all day and I’ve been pulling everything,” Knost said. “I remember normally what I do when I pull it is I get too far up in my stance, so I moved it back in the stance a little bit and hit a perfect putt there.”
Knost again came up big with his short game on the 14th hole, chipping in a 15-foot birdie from the edge of the green to give him a two-shot lead heading into the match’s final five holes. After sinking the shot, Knost displayed his first sign of positive emotion during the final by celebrating with a Tiger-esque fist pump.
On the par-3 15th, Thompson hit his second shot within a foot of the pin, and with Knost stuck in the light rough off the green after two, it looked like the lead would once again shrink to one. However, Knost sank a dramatic 20-foot putt to save par and halve the hole.
Thompson kept the suspense going by winning the 16th hole to get within one hole, but his second shot on the par-4 17th hole drifted down a steep slope from the green — about 80 feet from the cup — and he could not match Knost’s par.
In the end, Thompson, who could join Knost on the Walker Cup team when the rest of the roster is announced this week, had nothing but admiration for his final round opponent.
“He’s just such a tough competitor, he wants to win so bad, you can see that,” said Thompson, who qualified for the Masters and the U.S. Open with his runner-up finish. “I think in match play that’s huge. He just played great.”
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