Another morning with soft greens and hardly a breath of wind at TPC Sawgrass yielded low scores for the second day in a row at The Players Championship. Colt Knost took advantage of the ideal conditions, and when he stepped up to the 18th tee, he was 10-under.
Knowing that a place in history (breaking the course record) was at stake, he faced the intimidating tee shot on the final hole. As he stood over the ball, he let a negative thought cross his mind. A day earlier, he had snap-hooked his drive into the water hazard guarding the left side of the hole.
But it wasn’t the drive that let the course record slip through his fingers. He actually hit a pretty good drive into the first cut and then hit a 7-iron onto the green to 43 feet. Unfortunately, he left his lag putt six feet short and missed the par putt, settling with a three-putt bogey to tie the course record with a 63.
“The toughest thing to do is when you try to two-putt, and that’s kind of what I was thinking, which I regret that right now,” said Knost. “I wish I would have tried to make (it) — my caddie told me I hadn’t made a long one all day, so I might as well knock this one in. I wish I would have ran that through my head again. It seems like every time you try to two-putt, you leave yourself something a little more than you want.
“I was nervous over the last putt just because so many great players have played this golf course and all that, and to be the first one and only one to shoot 10-under would have been really cool.
“But I hit a pretty good putt, honestly, just kind of misread it a little bit and it hit the left lip.”
Knost joins the elite club of guys who have shot 63 at Sawgrass — Fred Couples (1992), Greg Norman (1994), Roberto Castro (2013), Martin Kaymer (2014), and Jason Day (2016).
Though he couldn’t really complain about posting nine-under to vault up the leaderboard to a tie for third at the moment (the afternoon wave is still on the course, obviously), he was slightly disappointed that he let the pressure of the par putt get the best of him.
“If I’m 4-under on the day and I have that four-footer, I’d just knock it right in the back, no issue,” said Knost. “But no, there was a little thought in my head that I could do something nobody has ever done around here.”
Knost, who hit all 18 greens in regulation, has only missed one cut in 15 starts in the 2015-16 season, but his best finish was a T14 at the RBC Heritage. The 2007 U.S. Amateur champion is still seeking his first top 10 this year, not to mention his first-career PGA Tour victory.
“I just seem to finish anywhere from 14th to 35th every week, and it’s just that one slow round a week that gets me,” said Knost. “I’m hoping that round was yesterday. But you know, to win out here and to compete, you have to play four good ones, and it’s just something I haven’t done yet this year, but it’s getting close. I’ve got to stay patient with everything.”
And while scoring conditions have been surprisingly “easy” so far this week, Knost doesn’t expect that to hold up through the weekend.
“It’s just way softer than we kind of expected,” he said. “The fairways are running, which kind of makes this place challenging, but at the same time it makes it play so short. I’m having so many wedges into greens, obviously I’m one of the shorter hitters out here, but you give us wedges into these greens, you’re going to be able to get aggressive.
“I hit a couple 5-irons into greens today that stopped rather quickly, I thought, which is great for scoring, but I still feel this golf course is going to change this weekend.”