It was a round that probably went unnoticed by most golf fans. PGA Tour journeyman Jim Knous posted an under-the-radar five-under 66 on Friday at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship. But look closer, and you’ll learn that this 66 was no ordinary round—and sets up no ordinary weekend for the man affectionately known on tour as “Jimmy Hard K.”
For starters, it included an eagle on the par-5 17th hole at Port Royal Golf Club—after bogeys on the 15th and 16th holes—to get to the clubhouse at five under. And why was that so important? Well, a five under on the round offset the five-over 76 Knous (pronounced Koh-NOUSE) shot under brutally difficult weather conditions during Thursday’s opening round. With an even-par 142, Knous made the cut on the number.
And why was that so important? Perhaps you’ll recall from when Knous was in contention a few weeks ago at the Fortinet Championship that the 31-year-old native of Littleton, Colo., is playing on a Korn Ferry Tour medical extension due to a right wrist injury. He had two starts left beginning with the Fortinet, where despite being ranked 1,078 in the world and with only one top-10 finish in 24 career PGA Tour starts, he was a co-leader entering the final round. With a two-way tie for third that Sunday in Napa, a six-way tie for second or a win, he would have earned enough FedEx Cup points to regain full PGA Tour status.
But the final round was a struggle, the pressure understood if unspoken. A closing 74 left him tied for 11th, helpful in trying to earn back the card, but not enough.
Fast forward to Bermuda, which wound up being Knous last start on the medical extension, and after his difficult opening-round performance, it looked like he might come up just short on his quest to return to the PGA Tour. He started the week only needing a solo 67th finish to keep his card. In other words, just make the cut, essentially.
It’s why then, again, the Friday round was so remarkable, potentially as pressure packed as the closing round in Napa. Knous birdied four of his first nine holes on Friday, to give himself a fighting chance. Another birdie on the 10th hole got her to five under on the round—and even par for the tournament—right around the projected cut line.
And then it got interesting. Knous made a bogey on the par-3 13th, but offset it with a birdie on the 14th. Then came the bogeys on the 15th and 16th holes, leaving Knous seemingly destined to miss the cut, only to pour in this 30-foot eagle putt on the 17th.
“Today, just knowing that I needed to probably shoot five under or better going in, it was kind of like a Korn Ferry Tour event where you know you’ve got to shoot five under before the day even starts to make the cut,” Knous said Friday. “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.”
That said, there’s still work to be done. All told, 74 pros made the cut, so Knous still has to avoid disasters in his third and fourth rounds to get inside the 67th spot and seal the deal.
“Yeah, the pressure’s immense,” Knous 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.”
The good news? Knous started well in his third round on Saturday, sitting at two under for the day through 13 holes to sit inside that top-67 spot.