Ron Kroichick reports on the uh, dilemma that the current U.S. Amateur Public Links champion faces...
Knost, unlike so many ambitious young golfers, already has qualified for next year's Masters. He can drive down Magnolia Lane, stay in the Crow's Nest, stroll alongside the azaleas, walk across Hogan Bridge and try to keep his ball out of Rae's Creek.
And he's not sure he will.
Knost, 22, recently completed a standout college career at SMU. He's coming to San Francisco next week for the U.S. Amateur, which begins Monday at the Olympic Club, and soon thereafter, he will travel to Ireland to represent his country in the Walker Cup.
All the while, lingering in the back of Knost's mind - and sometimes in the front - will be Augusta National. He won the U.S. Amateur Public Links last month outside Chicago, landing him a berth in next year's Masters. His name is right there on the tournament's Web site listing 2008 invitees, wedged between Jerry Kelly and two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer.
Here's the caveat: The Public Links champion must remain an amateur to keep his spot in the Masters. All along, Knost planned to turn pro after the Walker Cup in September and pursue his PGA Tour card at qualifying school.
"Everyone who plays golf dreams of playing in the Masters, and now I have a chance," Knost said in a telephone interview. "And playing in the Masters as an amateur would be such a different experience - they treat amateurs extremely well.
"It definitely would be difficult to pass that up. You never know what could happen. I could never make it there again."
History tells Knost few players turn down a Masters invitation - Tom Scherrer, the 1992 U.S. Amateur runner-up, was the last to decline. Scherrer didn't make it to Augusta National until 2001 and he hasn't been back since then (Scherrer now plays on the Nationwide Tour).
Knost recently talked to Phil Mickelson, who praised his talents, encouraged him to turn pro and predicted Knost will qualify for the Masters several times in the future. But therein lies the risk: What if he doesn't make it back? What if his career sputters and skipping the '08 Masters becomes a lifelong regret?
Well, he'd really, really hate Phil Mickelson for starters.
Walker Cup captain Buddy Marucci bluntly told Knost he would be crazy to pass on a whirl around Amen Corner.
I think so too. You all?