All of the strong work, and the rewards that come with it, seemed to be slipping away for Jim Knous on Sunday in the Butterfield Bermuda Championship. Through nine holes, he was four over par for the day and looking at a worst-case scenario.
The 31-year-old, playing his last event on a major medical extension, entered the week needing to finish tied for 67th or better to retain conditional status on the PGA Tour for the 2021-22 season. He nearly didn’t make the weekend at Port Royal, but closed with a birdie on Friday to make the cut on the number. A solid third-round 69 put him at T-56, two shots inside the bubble.
Then he was decidedly outside after opening with a 39 on Sunday after starting on the 10th hole.
“Just dug myself into a deep hole,” Knous said. “Your mind kind of goes all the wrong places. But I just told myself we’re going to do this. I just kept fighting and just proud to have done it. Proud to fight back on that second nine, make some birdies in tough conditions and leave Bermuda with some sort of status on the PGA Tour.”
In the rain and wind, Knous made three birdies against a bogey on the back nine, including a birdie on his 18th hole, to shoot one-over 72. That put him at one-under total and in a tie for 57th. Those who finished tied for 67th were three over.
“The greatest top-60 of all time,” an ecstatic Knous said after the round. “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 conditional status—the ones I get in I have to be ready, and I plan to be ready and go low and have chances.”
Hindered by a right wrist injury last season, Knous (pronounced Koh-NOUSE) contended in the PGA Tour’s 2021-22 season opener in Napa, Calif. Unfortunately, he struggled on Sunday with a 74 to drop to T-11, putting huge stakes on his final medical start in Bermuda.
As hard as he tried before the round on Sunday, Knous couldn’t put out of his mind what the day might mean to furthering a career in which he’s had only top-10 finish in 25 career PGA Tour starts.
“The emotions were going crazy today,” Knous said. “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.”
The nerves, however, lasted until the final putt on the last green. “I knew making birdie would be great and would vault me up the leader board a little bit,” Knous said. “I saw T-61 on the tee when I teed off, so I said, ‘I don’t know about that.’ I said,’Let’s make a par and I’m going to try to make this birdie putt just like any other putt, I’m going to try to make it.’ Luckily, rolled it in. I was so ecstatic to see it go in. And relief, too. A lot of relief.”