‘The emotions were going crazy’: Pro earns PGA Tour card with wild rally
Jim Knous entered this week’s Butterfield Bermuda Championship with a special kind of pressure: The pressure of keeping his job.
This week at Port Royal marked the final start on Knous’ Minor Medical Extension, a class of PGA Tour status that allows injured players a fair chance at retaining their cards based on play. Knous had nearly earned enough points in his previous start at the Fortinet Championship, but faded to T11 with a Sunday 74.
As a result, he came to Bermuda with a simple assignment. Well, not that simple: He had to earn 3.516 FedEx Cup points. But that translates to something far more tangible: Finish 67th or better and he’d have enough points to earn conditional PGA Tour status and full Korn Ferry Tour status. Anything worse than that? No status.
“Yeah, the pressure’s immense,” he said. “I’ve just dealt with it for two years now. It’s just been weighing on me. It’s tough for my family. An injury, it was hard. I’m just proud to be fighting on and have my family’s support. It means a lot to me.”
Knous’ week got off to a less-than-ideal start, however. He drew the worst of Thursday’s brutal weather, bogeyed seven of his first eight holes and opened with a round of five-over 76. Not great.
But on Friday, facing favorable conditions, he staged a furious rally, carding five birdies in his first 10 holes to get to even par — the exact number of the eventual cut line. He made bogey at 13 but got that back with a birdie at 14. Four holes left. But then Knous made bogey at 15 and 16 — two of Port Royal’s toughest holes — to fall outside the cut line once again.
No problem: He flagged his approach at the par-5 17th and made eagle to get back to even par.
When he tapped in for par at No. 18, he still wasn’t sure the number would be enough. But when it was, he was thrilled.
“Today, just knowing that I needed to probably shoot 5 under or better going in, it was kind of like a Korn Ferry Tour event where you know you’ve got to shoot 5 under before the day even starts to make the cut,” he said.
“I’ve been there before, I’ve done it obviously, but you know you need a good round going in. And it’s a tough mindset to have, but I knew if I just took one shot at a time, tried to do my best on every shot, you know, the results would come. Luckily, they did.”
They did indeed. But Knous’ week wasn’t over. He still had to secure a finish of 67th or better. He entered Sunday in a share of 56th — but then he got off to a rough start again, making bogey on three of his first four holes and going out in four-over 39.
That’s when Knous conjured his second rally of the week. He made birdie at No. 2 (his 11th hole of the day). Birdie at 4. Birdie at 7. And birdie at 9, just for good measure.
He signed for a round of one-over 72, no doubt the most satisfying T57 of his entire life.
“Yeah, the emotions were going crazy today,” he said after the round. “I was running through all the scenarios in my head, which is exactly what you don’t want to do, but it’s hard to block those out. Once that first tee ball was in the air, it was game time, everything kind of pushed to the back in my mind, so I was just able to focus on golf.
“But it’s emotional now. I’m happy to be done with the round, I’m happy to have played well on that back nine.”
Knous said he’ll take a moment to celebrate his newfound status — but then will come the hard work of keeping it.
“Yeah, greatest top-60 of all time. I’m going to celebrate with my caddie and my friends tonight and then my family when I get home. Then it’s back to work, job’s not done. Obviously with conditional status, the [events] I get into I have to be ready. And I plan to be ready and go low and have chances.”