Knost in US Amateur Finale

By Associated PressAugust 25, 2007, 4:00 pm
US Amateur 2007 ERMA, N.J. -- Ever since Colt Knost started to take golf seriously seven years ago, he's been focused on someday making a living at the sport he loves.
The stocky 22-year-old might want to wait a few months before he starts cashing those oversized paychecks. He'll have some remarkable opportunities next year after an outstanding summer as an amateur.
Knost is one step from completing a rare amateur double after beating Jhonattan Vegas 4 and 3 Saturday to advance to the finals of the U.S. Amateur Championship at The Olympic Club. He'll face Michael Thompson of the University of Alabama, who beat Casey Clendenon 3 and 2, in Sunday's 36-hole final round.
With yet another day of steady play on the historic course just south of San Francisco, Knost is in position to be just the second player to follow a U.S. Public Links title with an Amateur championship in the same year. Ryan Moore, now a top-60 player on the PGA TOUR, won the Amateur and the Publinx in 2004.
'That'd be great,' said Knost, who played at Southern Methodist. 'I'd like to hold one (trophy) in each hand. ... I've thought about it. People tell me all the time how Ryan Moore is the only guy that's done it in the same year. He's a great player, and I'd love to be up there with him.'
Both players earned spots in next year's Masters and U.S. Open fields with their semifinal victories -- and Knost already was bound for Augusta after winning the Publinx.
But all this amateur success has complicated Knost's previous plans to turn pro after playing in the Walker Cup next month in Northern Ireland. Knost couldn't accept his automatic bids to the two majors if he turns pro beforehand, and no Amateur finalist has turned down a trip to the Masters in 15 years.
It's a wonderful dilemma for the personable Texan. Though Knost said he'll find it difficult to pass on the Masters, he can't imagine staying in the amateur ranks until the U.S. Open.
'I don't think I can delay turning pro any longer,' Knost said. 'I need some money. I need a job. I love golf more than anything. This is what I want to do. This is all I want to do.'
Knost lost the first two holes against his Venezuelan opponent but didn't lose another, closing out the match with wins on four straight. Vegas, whose power off the tee impressed every opponent during the week, was all square with Knost until his tee shot on the 12th strayed into the right-side rough.
He bogeyed the hole, and Knost followed with a par and two birdies to close out the match.
'I knew he hits it a long way, and he's not the most accurate driver,' Knost said. 'I knew he probably wouldn't go the whole day without missing a fairway.'
Thompson, a second-team All-American at Alabama last season, led from the opening hole in his match against Clendenon. The Arizona native was the only semifinalist to finish the front nine under par, and he closed with five straight pars as Clendenon ran out of time to catch up on the 16th.
While Knost weighs the perks of turning pro, Thompson hopes his strong play in the Bay Area will propel him onto the Walker Cup team alongside Knost. He's among the top candidates for the final two spots on the squad.
'There's no doubt in my mind that I should play in the Walker Cup,' Thompson said. 'Colt came up to me this morning and told me, 'Go get 'em, you deserve to be on that team with us.' That was real nice to hear before the round that all those guys were convinced I could play with them. Hopefully I'll get a call sometime soon.'
Thompson and Knost have played several rounds together during the summer, so their final will be a friendly rivalry -- particularly because they could be teammates in two weeks.
'I love classic courses like this,' Thompson said. 'It's a true test of the game, and those kinds of courses, that's the way the great players in the '40s, '50s, '60s played it. They're still tough today. I don't really appreciate the newer courses as much.'
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