Knapp Wins Senior Am On First Try...In His 43rd USGA Event

Dave Shedloski files a superb Golf World game story from the U.S. Senior Amateur at Minikahda Club where Sean Knapp won the U.S. Senior Amateur in his first year of eligibility.

For a player who has had his share of moments in amateur golf, it's a great story. But winning after 43 USGA events, for someone who started the game at age 19, is something to behold in the era of short amateur careers.

When you add the emotions of winning one with Knapp's late father very much on his mind, it's an incredible story you'll want to take in.

An accomplished player in Western Pennsylvania, Knapp has been a fixture in USGA championships, twice advancing as far as the semifinals of the U.S. Mid-Amateur. In the 1995 U.S. Amateur at Newport Country Club, he defeated Notah Begay in a second-round match only to be stopped in the Round of 16 by eventual winner Tiger Woods. In 1998, he got to the quarterfinals at Oak Hill C.C.

But it had been more than three years since he had qualified for a USGA championship, and that one, the U.S. Amateur at Atlanta Athletic Club, ended before it began when Knapp received a call from his sister. Their father, Roger, stricken with cancer, had taken a turn for the worse. Knapp marched to his car and drove 11 hours straight home to Oakmont. On the way he phoned his dad. Said Knapp, “He could barely speak, but I told him this selfishly, ‘Dad, stay alive. We’re coming home for you.’ ”

When he arrived, Sean put his hand on his father’s chest and told his father, “I’m so proud of you.” His dad replied, “Sean, just in time.”