The good news for Colt Knost is that he’s tied for fourth. The bad news is that he’s still six shots off the lead.
Still, Knost, who is even par through his first nine holes, is in position to have by far his best finish of the year.
In 15 starts, Knost, who just four years ago won the U.S. Amateur, has missed the cut eight times with his best finish a tie for 29th (at the Mayakoba Golf Classic and at The Honda Classic).
Since winning the Amateur, Knost has struggled professionally. He won twice on the Nationwide Tour in 2008 but failed to keep his PGA TOUR card following the 2009 season.
Knost bounced back with four top-10s on the Nationwide Tour last year, including a runner-up in the season-ending Nationwide Tour Championship at Daniel Island. But Knost has putted well this week -- he leads the field in putts per round -- and that’s made all the difference.
To say Colt Knost has struggled since winning the 2007 U.S. Amateur would be an understatement. He famously turned professional that year, foregoing his opportunity to play in the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open in 2008 and hasn’t been to any of them since.
Friday, he moved a step closer to changing that. Knost shot a 68 and is 6 under entering the weekend at the St. Jude Classic, where he not only ended a stretch of four consecutive missed cuts but is in contention for his first career win.
“Kind of been struggling coming into this event,” Knost said. “I just kind of took a new mindset this week and just got off to a great start [Thursday] and played solid again today.”
A win would of course guarantee Knost a TOUR card for the next two years, likely get him into the first two PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup events, and also get him into next year’s Masters.
Friday also marked the first time Knost has posted back-to-back rounds in the 60s since Cancun.
Colt Knost was the only player without a bogey Thursday in Memphis, but he still trails leader David Mathis by one after a 66 that leaves him in a five-way tie for second.
Mathis, as mentioned earlier, made his first bogey on the penultimate hole but his 65 was still good enough to be the best number on the board in a difficult day of scoring at TPC Southwind, where only 31 players broke par.
“When you see 4 under is low after the morning, you know, you recognize that there's something going on,” Mathis said. “Whether it be pin placements or firmness of the greens or tricky wind. So you just try to be patient. Like I said, I hit some really good shots early and then avoided the mistakes. Add that with making some putts for birdie and it turns out to be a solid day.”
Of course Mathis, who’s never held an overnight lead on the PGA TOUR, also knows there’s a long way to go.
“I'm just trying to keep poise about me,” he said. “Just take it for what it is, enjoy it, be thankful for a good round and try to reproduce it for the next three days.”
On a side note, Stuart Appleby, who shot 78, and Chris Stroud, who had an 80, both withdrew. Stroud cited a wrist injury, while Appleby did not give a reason.