Colt Knost of Dallas earned a 2-and-1 victory over Michael Thompson of Tucson, Ariz., to win the 2007 U.S. Amateur Championship at The Olympic Club’s par-70, 6,948-yard Lake Course.
It was the second USGA title of 2007 for the 22-year-old Knost, who won the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship last month. With the victory, Knost became the sixth golfer in history to win two USGA championships in the same season, and the second to win the Amateur and the Amateur Public Links in the same year. Ryan Moore was the first to do so, in 2004.
"This is unbelievable," said Knost. "This is what I’ve been working for for so long. This is the ultimate championship for me right now and I just couldn’t be happier."
Knost held a 1-up lead after the first round of the scheduled 36-hole final thanks to a conceded birdie on the 18th hole. In the second round, Thompson squared the match with a brilliant par on the 247-yard third hole, the 21st of the match, when he got up and down from the left rough above the green.
Thompson, 22, took the lead two holes later when he made a 45-footer for par and Knost couldn’t match from 35 feet. But that would prove to be Thompson’s last lead of the day.
Knost squared the match one hole later when Thompson hit his tee shot in the left rough and had to pitch out to the fairway. He missed his par putt from 10 feet and Knost safely two-putted from 6 feet to again square the match. Knost again took a 1-up lead with a 10-footer for birdie on the eighth hole but gave it back when he missed an 8-footer for par on No. 11, the 29th of the match.
"I kept telling myself, ‘It's 36 holes, just stay patient,’ " said Knost. "I felt like this match, after that morning 18, I felt I could take control of the match coming out, and I didn’t. And I knew I was going to be in for a long haul."
But Knost would finally take the lead for good on No. 13, the 31st of the match, with a 20-foot birdie putt. One hole later, he chipped in from the rough just left of the green and Thompson was unable to match, giving Knost a 2-up advantage.
"At that point I'm thinking that I've got to give myself birdie opportunities," said Thompson. "I've got to give myself a chance to win a couple holes."
It looked like Thompson might get one back at No. 15 when Knost hit his tee shot to the rough in front of the green. But he chipped to 10 feet and made his par, allowing him to maintain a 2-up lead.
"I think that was probably more important than the other two, because it kept the momentum in my favor," said Knost. "If I miss that, then he wins the hole and he's obviously got control even though I'm 1 up with three holes to play."
Thompson did cut into the lead at No. 16 when he hit his approach shot from 118 yards to 3 feet, which he made to cut the deficit to 1 down. But on the next hole, the 35th of the match, he hit his approach shot into the rough well right of the green. He was unable to get his third shot onto the green, and eventually conceded Knost’s par putt, giving Knost his second USGA title in 2007.
For Thompson, there was a silver lining in the loss. He and Knost are assured of a spot in the 2008 U.S. Open field, and will receive invitations to play in the 2008 Masters Tournament as well.
"That's my dream come true," said Thompson of playing in the Masters. "I don't want to get ahead of myself or get too excited, but come that time, I'm going to practice real hard and try to do as best as I can and really enjoy it."
The Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs. The USGA is the national governing body of golf in this country and Mexico, a combined territory that includes more than half the game’s golfers and golf courses.