Basalt golfer hoping to go low in N.M. | AspenTimes.com

Basalt golfer hoping to go low in N.M.

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

By his own admission, Jim Knous is not playing very well.

Still, after three rounds at the San Juan Open in Farmington, N.M., the Basalt professional golfer is in the mix.

The recent Colorado School of Mines graduate is 6-under after carding 68, 69 and 70. That effort is good enough for spots in both the top 10 (he was seventh as of 4 p.m. Saturday with a few groups remaining on the course) and in today’s final round. The top 20 and ties after the third round made the cut.

Two-time tournament champion Ryan Hogue leads the way after overwhelming the field and San Juan Country Club with scores of 67, 67 and 64.

“He’s crushing everybody. I think he’s up four on the next closest guy,” Knous said. “I’m nine behind, which is kind of daunting.”

But not altogether unfamiliar. Knous, the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference player of the year who last week won his professional debut in Durango, trailed by 10 strokes after three rounds in August 2011’s Colorado Golf Association Stroke Play Championship at Boulder Country Club. All he did in the final round was chip in for eagle at the par-5 second hole and record eight birdies en route to a 10-under 60. He came up short in a two-man playoff.

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The score, believed to be the lowest ever in competitive CGA play, bested the previous course record of 62 – one shared by three-time U.S. Open winner Hale Irwin.

“I know I’ve got another low number in me,” Knous said Saturday. “I’m just looking to go out there and put up a pretty decent score. As long as I hit the ball like I have, I know I can give myself legitimate birdie chances.”

Knous squandered multiple opportunities during an up-and-down round on a scorching Saturday. He bogeyed No. 11 and 13 – his second and fourth holes.

“I was fuming at that point,” Knous admitted. “I had really good birdie chances at 10 and 12 that just lipped out. I went from possibly being

2-under to 2-over. It was a bad way to start a round.”

He momentarily regrouped on back-to-back par 5s, birdying No. 14 and rolling in an eagle putt at 15. He took a step back on 16, however.

“The pin was all the way in the back left, and I told myself not to miss it long. Of course, I go and turn the club face over a little bit and knock it over the green and into the bunker. That’s an automatic bogey,” Knous lamented. “Some of the greens were really quirky and hard to read.”

He made the turn at even, then failed to take advantage of two relatively easy par 5s at No. 1 and 3. Knous then short-sided himself off the tee at the par-4 fourth, resulting in another bogey.

He closed out the round by sinking birdie putts from 12 and 30 feet on No. 6 and 9, respectively.

“That was a pretty good way to finish off the round and get under par,” Knous said. “It was nice to see a few go in – I was burning the edges all day.”

He’ll likely have to see many more putts fall if he is to log a second consecutive victory today.

“I need to keep playing like I have been, hit my irons a little closer and take advantage of all those par 5s,” Knous said. “I’m going to have to pull something out the hat, that’s for sure.”

jmaletz@aspentimes.com

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