18 Questions With ...
A Memorable 2007 Behind Him,
Colt Knost Has No Regrets Over Turning Pro
January 11, 2008
In 2007, Colt Knost had a summer to remember. The Texan
became just the second player in USGA history to win the
U.S. Amateur and U.S. Amateur Public Links titles in the
same calendar year - Ryan Moore first achieved the feat in
2004. Knost was also the sixth player in history to win
multiple USGA titles in the same year.
Adding to his remarkable season was his selection to the
USA Walker Cup team, where he went 2-0-2 at Royal County
Down in helping the Americans retain the cup. USGA Staff
writer David Shefter caught up with Knost recently in
Dallas. Knost has since earned conditional status on the
Nationwide Tour for 2008 and will also receive a few
sponsor exemptions into PGA Tour events.
First off, any regrets about turning professional?
No. It's going to be painful sitting and watching the
Masters at home. I said all along I wasn't going to
stay amateur for the U.S. Open. Hopefully I can get hot at
Pebble (AT&T Pro-Am) or one of the first tournaments
and win and get in [to the Masters]. I'll be back there
one day. I'm happy with my decision. I played those
three [PGA Tour] events in the fall and have already gone
through Q-School and gained that experience. I have played
three [stages] of Q-School and three [PGA Tour]
tournaments. I've played six tournaments and gave up
one and I feel like it will make me a much better player
down the road.
Did you have to wrestle with the decision or was your
mind made up after theWalkerCup?
After I won the Amateur, I knew what I was going to do.
Once I got over to Ireland, me and [Walker Cup teammate]
Trip [Kuehne] talked about it a lot. I knew I was going to
turn pro. I was just waiting [to get back home].
Turn your attention to theU.S.Amateur Public Links inChicago. Now that you are almost six months removed from
winning atCantignyGolf, what are your thoughts about the week?
|Colt Knost, posing with the Walker
Cup, left, U.S. Amateur, center, and U.S. Amateur
Public Links trophies at the Royal Oaks Country Club in
Dallas, Texas, recently, had to learn how to control
his emotions on the course, according to his
instructor, Randy Smith. (John Mummert/USGA)|
The biggest thing I remember is that I almost didn't
even make it to match play. I made a 6-footer on the 18th
hole of the second round [of stroke play] to miss going
into that big playoff. Once I got into match play - and
that was my first experience with match play - I knew that
the course fit me well and I knew the format fit me well
because I make very few mistakes. That's probably the
best golf I played all summer. That really just set the
tone for the rest of the summer for me. It gave me so much
Did you make any significant changes to your game or
mindset between stroke and match play?
I hit it awful the first day. I shot like four over. I went
to the second day and hit it great. Me and [instructor]
Randy [Smith] talked on the phone and normally he's
pretty good about figuring stuff out even over the phone
when I tell him what's going on. I went out and hit it
great, but just made no putts at all the second round of
stroke play. Then I got into match play and kept hitting it
good and finally some putts started falling. If I had
putted well [every day], I probably would have never had a
match go past 13. That's how good I hit it.
At the time of theAPL, there was a lot of talk about you possibly being
selecting to theWalkerCupteam. Did you feel any extra pressure to perform well,
knowing you had a chance to be one of the 10 players
Going into the summer, and after the [Walker Cup] practice
session [earlier in the year] I know [captain] Buddy
[Marucci] liked what he saw and from what people told me, I
knew I had a good chance of making it, but I had to play
well. I wasn't going to be able to just scrape through
the summer and get picked. Toward the end of that week, it
was weird because I felt the bubble guys were me, Rickie
Fowler and Daniel Summerhays. And in that week, we all win.
I mean Daniel wins the Nationwide Tour event [in Columbus,
Ohio] and Rickie wins the Players [Amateur in South
Carolina]. I'm like, 'Now we're still
even.' That's the thing I remember most is how all
three of us won.
How much confidence did you take from theAPLthrough the rest of the summer and, specifically,
It was huge. I win the Pub Links, and I played well at the
Porter Cup [in Lewiston, N.Y.] and I played really well at
the Western [Amateur in Michigan] until match play and then
got slaughtered. That was the only match I lost all summer.
Going into the Olympic Club, I had people telling me that
this golf course is perfectly suited for you. Normally,
when I hear that I don't play too well because I put a
lot of pressure on myself. I guess with already being named
to the Walker Cup, it took so much pressure off. When I got
to Olympic Club, I just fell in love with the place. I was
playing great coming in and was swinging great. I really
just played really well all week.
Olympic'sLakeCourseis one of the most challenging in the country, so why
were you able to have so much success on it?
It's a ball-striker's golf course. You can't
scrape it around out there. It's got narrow fairways
and small greens, which is what I love. Put me on a golf
course like that and I can compete.
Most of theWalkerCupguys struggled that week. Trip Kuehne andJonathanMooreboth missed the cut and favoritesChrisKirkandJamieLovemarkwent out earlier than expected. Was there pressure on
you to carry the banner for the squad?
A little bit. I was getting text messages from them all
week. They were rooting me on and everything. I just knew
that if I won that Buddy and the USGA are going to get to
select the people they wanted to [for the final two spots].
They weren't going to be forced to take anybody. We all
knew who most likely were going to be on the team. We
obviously wanted to have the best team go over there and
with me winning, I felt like it gave us the best chance.
In the third round, you had to face veteranGeorgeZahringer, a formerWalkerCupperand someone who is twice your age. He gave you quite a
tussle, didn't he?
George was awesome. I heard a lot of things about him. And
Buddy came up to me before [the match] and said,
'Don't take this guy lightly.' He tried to pull
the veteran stuff on me like making me putt 1-footers. But
he's a great guy and I think we've become pretty
good friends now. He came over to the Walker Cup and
he's an awesome guy. He was fun to play with.
Was there one moment from the week that stood out more
In the afternoon round of the finals, on No. 8, that par 3
where everybody sits on that hill back there, that was
probably the loudest roar I heard all week. I hit an 8-iron
that landed real close to the hole and it was a pretty loud
roar. That was a pretty exciting moment. The match I
remember most is when I played Nick Taylor in the quarters.
I was like five or six under on him and beat him pretty
What I remember about your final was the clutch chip-in
at the 32nd hole and the emotion you showed. Where does
that moment stack up?
That's probably the most memorable shot. It was funny
because I had just made birdie on No. 13 (hole 31 of the
match) to go 1 up with five to play. I was over there just
left of the green on No. 14 and my caddie, Steve Molinelli,
said, 'You are due for a chip-in.' Right when I hit
it, I said, 'That looks so good.' It hit dead
center in the middle of the pin. I thought it was going to
hit and spin out. Then it fell, luckily.
Your caddie for the week,SteveMolinelli, was an interesting story. He caddied in the sectional
qualifying rounds forNathanielCrosbyin 1981 when he won the Amateur at Olympic and is a
four-time club champ at Olympic. How did you wind up with
him on your bag?
He was an amazing, amazing guy. Pat O'Brien, the
putting guru who works with Zach Johnson and some guys out
on tour, used to be an assistant out there. Pat is here in
Dallas now and he called me and said, 'If you need a
caddie let me know.' He called [Steve] and we hit it
off and it was great. We got along. We both kind of have
had the same mindset with everything. I think that's
why it worked out so well.
You didn't have too much time off between the
Amateur triumph and theWalkerCup. How do you calm yourself down from that high to get
ready for the ultimate amateur team competition?
I was so excited to go over there, but I was so worn out.
Three days later, I had to get on a plane to go to Ireland.
We get over there and land at 6 in the morning and
we've got to go straight to the golf course because
Buddy doesn't want us to go to sleep. I'm just
kicking at Buddy all week, telling him I need some sleep. I
want to rest a little bit, which he let me. That was the
most memorable week of my golfing life. I think about it
all the time. You can't describe it. A lot of guys tell
me how they go to all these major sporting events and I
think if you have never been over to the Walker Cup,
especially over in Great Britain and Ireland, you've
got to go. I've never been to one over here - I'm
going to Merion Golf Club [in 2009] for sure - but
there's nothing like it. I wasn't at Chicago Golf
Club [in 2005], but I just can't imagine it being any
better than it was over there.
Guys have told me about the incredible butterflies they
have before hitting their first shot at aWalkerCup. How were you nerves holding up on that Saturday
morning of the first session of foursomes?
Me and Dustin Johnson were partners and we were playing
Rory McIlroy, who is their stud, [and Jonathan Caldwell]
and we have 10,000 people out there and there's
probably 8,000 following our group. We're playing
alternate shot and Dustin has to hit the first tee shot. He
was telling me how nervous he was as we were walking to the
He made contact as the guy was saying Dustin Johnson. He
didn't even let the [announcer] finish his name. He
just smoked it. I wasn't nervous because I didn't
have to hit the shot. But he hit it like 400 yards off the
first tee and that's no exaggeration. He out-drove Rory
by like 80 yards. I'm getting up there to hit our
second shot and [the marshals] are letting them walk up the
fairway with us. So I get over my second shot and all of a
sudden, I hear all these footprints come creeping up behind
me. I mean there are 8,000 people out there. I turn around
and see all these people and it's the most nervous I
have ever been in my life. My heart just started pounding.
I hit a good shot and we two-putted for birdie and we won
the hole. I had a 6-footer to win the match on the last
hole that I missed. I could hardly take the putter back. We
halved that first match.
It seemed like you guys were the underdogs inNorthern Ireland. Was the team happy playing that role?
That's what everybody said. I got bashed on in the
British press a lot because I said some things because they
bashed on us before we even got over there. I just
didn't think it was very fair. You guys [here in the
U.S.] don't write about their team the way they wrote
about us. So when we won, I gave it to them pretty good and
said some things, but everybody tells us we were the
underdog going in and I didn't feel like that. How can
you take the 10 best players in America and say that those
10 [from GB&I] are better than us just because we are
coming over to their soil.
Do you think it had anything to do with the home-course
advantage and the fact they had a couple of holdovers from
the 2005 team?
You see I didn't feel that way. We got a week to
prepare. You let 10 of the best golfers in the world play a
golf course for a week, they are going to get to know it
pretty good. People questioned Trip and Jonathan being on
the team or questioned the selection process. The U.S.
media does it and the British media does it more, I think.
They questioned [British Amateur] champion Drew Weaver not
being on the team. But I think it's funny that the U.S.
media never questioned their selection process. They never
questioned who was on their team. That bothered us. It was
almost unfair. Everyone was out to get us.
CaptainBuddyMaruccifollowed your progress all summer as you tried to play
your way on the team. You talk very fondly of him. How was
he to play for?
He was amazing. Buddy is a great friend and somebody I can
call anytime I need anything. He's been so supportive.
He was there every match but the finals at the Amateur. He
called me every day during the Public Links. People just
think he's a quiet guy who doesn't say much, but
they don't know him very well. He walked down the
fairway with me those last three holes on Sunday at the
Walker Cup and he knows how to get you fired up and knows
the right things to say.
What was your one favorite or memorable moment from
For me personally, the chip shot I hit on the last hole [of
Sunday singles] was just unbelievable with all the people
around. Other than that, I was right beside J. Moore when
he hit that 4-iron into the last hole, and we were all
right there on the green when he made the [eagle] putt. The
whole week is a memorable experience. There's not one
moment I can really pick out. I wish I could play in 10
Walker Cups. I would play in it every time. It's the
greatest event I have ever been in. Representing your
country is the greatest thing you can do in sports.
There's nothing like it. I think it would be tough to
have the Ryder Cup beat the Walker Cup.