Knous trades bleacher seat for tee time in Phoenix
January 30, 2017
By Kevin Prise, PGATOUR.COM
- Colorado School of Mines alum Jim Knous will make his first PGA TOUR start this week at TPC Scottsdale. (Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR)
Jim Knous and his college buddies have a tradition.
Since he graduated from the Colorado School of Mines in 2012 with a civil engineering degree, Knous and friends have made the Waste Management Phoenix Open appointment viewing. They rent a couple of houses in the Scottsdale area, pile in, then pile onto the 16th hole to join in the festivities at what is known as the ‘Greatest Show on Grass.’
This year, the group of fans had swelled to 16 people. After Monday, though, the number was reduced to 15.
That’s because Knous took it upon himself to play his way into the tournament, as the Web.com Tour rookie shot a sizzling 7-under 65 in Monday’s open qualifier to secure the third and final available spot in this week’s event at TPC Scottsdale.
Knous has never played a PGA TOUR event – in fact, he has only made one career Web.com Tour cut in eight starts, and missed the cut by one shot at both Bahamas events to open the 2017 Web.com Tour season earlier this month.
But after a nine-birdie, two-bogey performance on Monday at McCormick Ranch GC, Knous will take his spot in a star-studded field along the likes of Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson – in front of some of the most raucous fans in golf.
Including 15 of his closest friends from back in Colorado.
“It’s going to be incredible,” said Knous from his grandparents’ house outside Scottsdale on Monday night, with whom he celebrated a belated 27th birthday dinner on the evening before his hot qualifying round. “My college buddies and I … we all come down here and pile on 16, and get there super early and go watch and get rowdy …
“To be on the other side, actually hitting shots, is going to be wild. I’ve yelled at my fair share of golfers on No. 16, and now I’m going to be the guy getting yelled at.”
Knous was planning to join his friends for a casual round on Wednesday, but he’ll happily trade that in for some practice time at TPC Scottsdale, where he plans to prepare to the best of his ability before making his first career PGA TOUR swing sometime Thursday.
This week’s experience will include the iconic 16th hole, where just two years ago Knous and his friends were on-hand to see Francesco Molinari make ace in the third round, and join in the eardrum-shattering cheers that ensued.
Molinari’s hole-in-one is just one of Knous’ special memories from No. 16, though.
Last year, Knous was in the crowd to watch fellow Denver-area native Mark Hubbard come through the 16th. Knous and Hubbard grew up playing junior golf together, and that day Knous and his friends were sporting Denver Broncos jerseys in the crowd, in anticipation of their team’s Super Bowl appearance the next day (which they went on to ultimately win).
Hubbard, too, donned a Broncos jersey as he made his way to the green, and began to toss footballs into the crowd. Knous caught one.
Three days before the start of competition, Knous laughs as he wonders what the crowd might yell to him on the 16th tee. He recalls standing next to a group of Minnesota Vikings fans that maintained a binder with personal information on every player, and chanting “really weird stuff.”
Hailing from the Colorado School of Mines, a rather under-the-radar institution in the world of college athletics, he’s intrigued to hear what transpires.
“I don’t even know what I’m going to get about the Orediggers,” he said with a laugh.I've yelled at my fair share of golfers on No. 16, and now I'm going to be the guy getting yelled at.
It’s been an interesting couple of weeks for Knous, who missed the cut by a shot in both The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay, and The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic at The Abaco Club, despite firing a second-round 70 on both occasions – both times, it appeared as if the cut line would fall in his favor, only to swing one shot lower at the end.
After missing the cut last week in Abaco (an event which played under a Sunday-Wednesday format), Knous flew back home to Denver on Wednesday, then headed for Arizona with his wife on Friday.
The couple went hiking with some friends on Saturday, and spent the rest of the weekend relaxing. It paid off Monday, as Knous’ putter heated up in a big way, with his college friend Cory Bacon (a PING design engineer) on the bag.
Bacon headed to the PING offices for the afternoon after the morning qualifying round was complete, but once Knous knew for sure that he had earned his place in the field, he texted his friend.
“Any chance you can caddie for the whole week?” Knous asked.
“Yeah, man, I’m in,” Bacon replied.
Successfully qualifying for the event won’t change Knous’ travel plans to the next Web.com Tour event in Bogota, Colombia – after all, he was planning to stay in Scottsdale for the weekend anyway. He’ll fly out Monday, which was the plan all along.
He’ll just hope the weekend will take a slightly different turn. Rather than sitting in the stands on No. 16 and yelling at the competitors, he’ll plan to walk through the tunnel and arrive on the tee to hear his college buddies – “those crazy hooligans” – yelling for him.