Longhorns golfer back on track
BASALT The start of this summer has been a struggle for Basalt golfer Jim Knous. He has battled inconsistent play and fading confidence – a somber set of circumstances for a player who won four individual medals and helped the Longhorns clinch their first regional title last fall. His frustrations came to a head recently when he opened with an 83 at an American Junior Golf Association tournament in Oklahoma. His second-round 78 did little more than help him finish in the top half of the field. And it couldn’t help him shake his doubt.”That’s about as bad as it can get for me,” the senior said Saturday. “I was really starting to get discouraged, and I didn’t know if I could play anymore.”Steamboat Springs’ Haymaker Golf course hardly seemed like the ideal place for Knous to regain his form. After all, he and the Longhorns faltered there last October and watched their 4A state title hopes slip away – Knous and teammate Connor Rakowski combined for 71 putts in the final round, and Basalt wound up seventh.But Knous was surprisingly confident heading into the opening round of the Colorado Junior Golf Association’s Haywhacker Tournament on Monday. He knew Haymaker well and figured his distance off the tee would give him a fighting chance.His intuition was correct. Knous fired a 72, and trailed leader Michael Tilghman of Littleton by just three shots heading into the final round. Had it not been for a string of blunders early Tuesday, he may have contended for first; he settled for a one-over 73 and second place.”I generally like that course, and I know I can do pretty well there,” Knous said. “I had a little bit of a nervous start [Tuesday], and I’m kicking myself. If I didn’t make mistakes on the first three [holes], I would’ve been tied with the leader.Knous’ drive on the first hole Tuesday landed in a sand trap and rolled under the lip. The lie was so bad he failed to get out on his second shot and wound up recording a double bogey. His approach on No. 2 came up well short, leaving him a 60-footer for birdie; he three-putted. He couldn’t complete an up-and-down on the third and finished with another bogey. His three-shot deficit had ballooned to six.”I knew I had a chance but that start kind of bothered me,” Knous said. “I kind of shook it off and was able to bring it back with a lot of pars. The par-5s helped me out.”Knous birdied all four of Haymaker’s par-5s, and finished with a combined score of 148.”Something just started to click,” Knous said.That momentum continued Wednesday at the CJGA’s Tom Whitehead Memorial in Vail. Knous, playing the Vail Golf Club for the first time, shook off a bogey at the first – his tee shot came to rest under a tree – to finish with a 3-over 74, good for second place.”I thought I hit a good drive, but it ended up behind a tree – that’s local knowledge that I didn’t have right there,” he said. “I guess I’m not good at those starts.”Still, Knous’ finishes in both tournaments are promising, he said. His focus is back and his swing is coming around.Knous hopes that trend continues. The high school season begins in little more than a month.Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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