On the Hot Seat: Colt Knost
Colt Knost doesn't look like your typical golfer. A bit squat, a tad burly, the recent SMU grad more closely resembles, well, someone who isn't an athlete.But don't let the physique fool you. Knost won the U.S. Public Links title earlier this year, then followed it with a win at the U.S. Amateur before helping the United States team to victory at the Walker Cup. Just call him a Colt hero. Knost's endless summer continues this week at the PGA Tour's Valero Texas Open, where he will make his professional debut. That's right, he's given up certain invitations to next year's Masters, U.S. Open and British Open -- each of which stipulate that PubLinks and/or Amateur champions must not turn pro in order to still compete -- in favor of playing some Fall Series events and Q School.
Before he begins life as a play-for-pay golfer, we put Knost on the ESPN.com Hot Seat to discuss his challenging choice.Q: How difficult was the decision to turn pro?
A: Very difficult. It took me a long time to think about it, but I think I ended up making the right choice. Q: What was the biggest motivating factor?
A: Just that it was time for a new challenge. I had nothing left to prove in amateur golf. Q: I'm sure you received opinions from so many people. What percentage told you to remain an amateur and what percentage said you should turn pro?
A: Before I won the U.S. Amateur, it was about 50-50. And then after it went to about 80-20 saying I should turn pro. Q: Did that affect your decision?
A: No, it was all up to me, honestly. I made a decision myself. I mean, I valued other people's opinions, but ultimately I made the final call. Q: I know you talked it over with Phil Mickelson. What did he tell you?
A: He told me actually after the PubLinks that I should turn pro. And then I didn't talk to him after I won the Amateur. I knew what he would have thought. Q: What was his reasoning behind it?
A: Just that it was crazy to sit out six months with nothing to play in for one tournament when I could be out there getting sponsor's exemptions and playing in a few events to gain experience for my professional career. Q: Of course, turning pro means no Masters next year, unless you qualify another way. Think you'll be feeling the pangs of regret come April?
A: If I'm not there, it'll be difficult to watch, but I know I'll get back there someday. Q: Have you spoken with anyone from Augusta National about your decision?
A: No, I have not. I'm planning on doing that very shortly. Q: What were the advantages of going pro now as opposed to after the first three majors of 2008?
A: I basically would have been putting off my career for a whole year. I mean, I would have had nothing to do. I would have had to play amateur golf again, which just would have cost me and my family money. The time was right. I went out as the No. 1 player in the world in amateur golf and closed it out by helping the U.S. team winning the Walker Cup. I just felt like that was the ultimate highlight of my amateur career, and I didn't think it could get any better than that. Q: Looking ahead, what's your schedule for the rest of this year?
A: I'm playing this week and then I'm hopefully getting into a few more events before Q School. And then I'm just going from there. I'm going to play as much as I can. Q: Do you have to go through all three stages of Q School?
A: As of right now, I do. Yeah. Q: Nervous about it?
A: No, not at all. Q: Obviously, the main objective is to make the PGA Tour through Q School. Not to sound negative, but if that doesn't happen, what's Plan B?
A: Well, I've got a few starts on the PGA Tour next year already. Q: Sponsor's exemptions?
A: Yes. And otherwise, I'll go Monday qualify for some Nationwide [Tour events] and play whenever I can. All it takes is to get into a few tournaments and play well and you'll get status. Q: Is there a player that people say you remind them of?
A: I've heard a lot of things. I've heard Jason Gore, I've heard Hal Sutton, I've heard everything. Q: Jason Gore is the one I was going to say.
A: Yeah, that's what everybody says. He's a good buddy of mine, too. Q: I want you to look into your crystal ball. About 10 or 15 years down the road, of all your Walker Cup teammates, who will be the most successful?
A: Me. Q: How come?
A: I just believe in myself that much. Q: OK, trivia time. You ready?
A: Uh-huh. Q: Three players have won three USGA titles in the same season. You're one of 'em. Who are the other two?
A: I have no idea. I didn't know there was anyone else. Who are the other two? Q: Bobby Jones in 1930 and Jay Sigel in 1983.
A: I didn't know that. Q: OK, you're 0-for-1. Only one other player has won both the U.S. Amateur and PubLinks in the same season. Who was it?
A: Ryan Moore. Q: There you go, back in 2004. Next one: What course was the site of Jack Fleck's 1955 U.S. Open playoff victory over Ben Hogan?
A: Olympic. Q: Yup, better get that one since you won the Amateur there. And last one: Who was the last player to turn down a Masters invite in order to become a professional (and not eventually play in the tournament)?
A: Tom Scherrer. Q: Very nice. That was 1992. Three out of four is pretty solid. You redeemed yourself. Colt Knost, you're off the Hot Seat.
A: All right, thanks a lot. Jason Sobel is ESPN.com's golf editor. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn3.com
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