Knost's recipe for success: Get to work

By Will GrayOctober 9, 2014, 11:35 pm

NAPA, Calif. – Colt Knost knows exactly where his 2014 season bottomed out.

Mired in an unsuccessful campaign on the Web.com Tour, Knost was a late entry to the Midwest Classic in July. He arrived for the tournament in Kansas City, Mo., late Wednesday night and teed off the following day without a practice round.

“I shot a 78 the first day,” he recalled. “I realized this ain’t – you can’t do this. You’ve got to go to work.”

It’s a familiar refrain for the 29-year-old, whose seven years as a pro have included more ebbs and flows than most players might experience an entire career.

After he won a pair of USGA titles in 2007, Knost was seen as a can’t-miss rising star. That perspective was validated when he won twice during his rookie season on the Web.com Tour, launching him to the PGA Tour. But the success quickly dried up, and Knost has spent the last four seasons bouncing between the two tours.

Knost opened his 2014-15 season with a 4-under 68 at the Frys.com Open to move within two shots of the early lead, and offered candid reflection on the journey that brought him to this point in his career.

“I’ve kind of had this theme before, but I just realized that in the last five years, I haven’t put in the work that I did when I was in college and my first year out on the Web.com Tour,” he said. “I knew that if I wanted to get back to where I feel like I belong, that I needed to get to work.”

Knost was a member of the decorated U.S. Walker Cup team in 2007, a squad that included Rickie Fowler, Billy Horschel, Chris Kirk, Dustin Johnson and Webb Simpson. While those players have had great success on the PGA Tour, Knost’s resume is much more pedestrian: two top-10 finishes in 116 starts, with his best result a third-place showing at the 2012 RBC Heritage.

After a worry-free ascension through the ranks to begin his career, Knost admits that he didn’t respond well to the first signs of adversity.

“I kind of took the game for granted, I feel like, when I first turned pro. I mean, everything was just so easy,” he said. “I thought things were going to be really easy, and they weren’t. And I slacked off.”


Frys.com Open: Articles, videos and photos


After Knost’s missed cut in Kansas City earlier this summer – a 36-hour pit stop that he said was “like the shortest golf tournament trip ever” – a return to the PGA Tour seemed like a longshot. But he re-dedicated himself alongside swing coach Randy Smith, and those changes paid immediate dividends, as he cracked the top five in three of his next four starts.

The last in that line of results, a playoff loss at the first Web.com Tour Finals event, ensured that Knost would get his card back for the new season. It capped a remarkably quick turnaround, one that he traced back to his brief trip to the Show Me State this summer.

“I flew home [from Kansas City] and went to work that weekend with Randy, and haven’t played bad since,” he said.

For a player still shy of his 30th birthday, Knost has seen the highs and the lows of the game. The experience has granted him the perspective of a veteran, and it has helped him savor the days when things go according to plan.

“You learn a lot in this game, I think, and I’d say you definitely learn more from the negatives than the positives,” he said. “Confidence is just so key in this game, and I have a lot of it right now. I’ve played well for two, three straight months and it just feels nice.”

The path to the upper echelon is rarely straight, even for the most talented players. Adversity can wear thin a player’s resolve, and poor results can erode his self-belief.

Knost understands that process all too well, but after emerging from his latest valley he finds himself in contention once again on the PGA Tour.

Having hit rock bottom, he believes he’s begun to hit his stride.

“I think we all mature at different times in this game,” he said. “I mean, some people figure it out right away, and some people it takes until they’re 35 or so. I’m 29 now, and I think I’m starting to figure it out a little bit.”

Getty Images

Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

Getty Images

Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

Getty Images

Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

@tommyfleetwood_1

A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

Getty Images

Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."