SAN FRANCISCO, (Aug. 25, 2007)-- Colt Knost of Dallas and Michael Thompson of Tucson, Ariz., each won semi-final matches Saturday at the 2007 U.S. Amateur and will play in the championship’s 36-hole final Sunday at The Olympic Club’s par-70, 6,948-yard Lake Course.
It will be the second USGA championship final of the year for the 22-year-old Knost, who last month won the U.S. Amateur Public Links. Knost is trying to become the sixth golfer in history to win two USGA championships in the same season, and join Ryan Moore (2004) as the second to win the Amateur and Amateur Public Links in the same year.
Knost fell behind for the first time during the championship against Venezuela’s Jhonattan Vegas, 23, who won the first hole with a birdie and the second with a par to take an early 2-up lead in their semifinal match. But Knost knew his chance would come.
"I knew that he would make a mistake if I would just stay patient and let it happen," said Knost.
Vegas did give one back with a bogey at the third hole and narrowly missed several opportunities to increase his lead, missing a 15-footer for birdie on the eighth hole and a 10-foot birdie try on the ninth.
"I had a few opportunities to take a good lead and to get the momentum on my side, but I wasn't able to do it," said Vegas, the 2006 Venezuelan Amateur champion. "If one of those two putts would have gone in, I would have the momentum on my side going to the back nine, which would be a lot better. But I just didn't execute the way that I needed to and I paid for it."
Knost finally got his chance to square the match on the par-4, 430-yard 10th hole, when Vegas hit his approach shot into the rough atop a bunker.
"I've just been piping it on 10 every day," said Knost. "And I really hadn't had a good solid tee shot yet. And I got to 10 and said, ‘You've been hitting this great all week and do the same thing.’ And I smoked it right down the middle and I just really felt like that was the turning point."
From there, Knost took control, winning four consecutive holes, the 12th and 13th with pars and the 14th and 15th with birdies, to earn a 4 & 3 win.
"Once I won No. 12, I said, ‘All right, let's stick it to him here and let's try to win these next three and get out of here,’ " said Knost. "My goal has been not to get to 16 every day because I can't play that hole very well. I've been struggling on that hole a little bit, so I'm trying to get everything over with before then."
Thompson, 22, didn’t have to come back in his semifinal match again Casey Clendenon, 23, of Beaumont, Texas. Thompson birdied the first hole to take the early lead, which he held for the entirety of the match.
"It's good to get that first hole out of the way and play solid," said Thompson. "It's always a little nerve-wracking on the first hole. And to get off to a good solid start, not necessarily striping it to begin with, but just getting off with a good par or a conceded birdie is awesome."
After Thompson built a 3-up advantage with a par at the 498-yard fifth hole, Clendenon got one back at the 286-yard par-4 seventh when Thompson’s tee shot flew over the green and he couldn’t get up and down from the rough above the green.
But Thompson won the 13th and 14th holes with pars and eventually earned a 3-and-2 victory and a spot in the final against Knost.
"He came out playing solid and he aimed for center of greens and hit a lot of fairways," said Clendenon. "I couldn't get it going. He played better today, so he deserves it. I had a couple opportunities to get back in the match, but unfortunately I didn't and I didn't take charge of them."
With their victories Saturday, Knost and Thompson both earned berths into the 2008 U.S. Open and likely invitations to play in the 2008 Masters Tournament.
"It hasn't sunk in yet and I'm absolutely thrilled that I've gotten into the U.S. Open for next year," said Thompson. "It's going to be fun."
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.
--Story courtesy USGA
ABOUT THE U.S. Amateur
The U.S. Amateur, the oldest USGA
championship, was first played in 1895 at
Newport Golf Club in Rhode Island. The
which has no age restriction, is open to
with a Handicap Index of 2.4 or lower. It is
of 13 national championships conducted
annually by the USGA, 10 of which are
for amateurs. It is the pre-eminent
competition in the world.
Applications are typically placed online, starting
third week in April at www.usga.org.
View Complete Tournament Information