Lib­erty grad Knoll breaks course record held by Snead

The Morning Call - - SPORTS - By Mark Wo­gen­rich

Alex Knoll achieved the cool golf story Tues­day by break­ing a 78-year-old course record held by Sam Snead. Af­ter that, he wanted the vic­tory.

Knoll, a Lib­erty High grad­u­ate, held on for that Thurs­day in win­ning the 98th Philadel­phia PGA Pro­fes­sional Cham­pi­onship. As the mar­quee event of the Philadel­phia Sec­tion PGA sched­ule, the Pro­fes­sional Cham­pi­onship brings to­gether the re­gion’s top club pros look­ing to qual­ify for next spring’s na­tional PGA Pro­fes­sional Cham­pi­onship.

Knoll shot rounds of 62-69-78 to win the tour­na­ment by two shots and earn his sixth trip to the PGA Pro­fes­sional Cham­pi­onship. That event, to be held in April in Austin, Texas, serves as the na­tional cham­pi­onship for club pro­fes­sion­als and a qual­i­fier into the 2020 PGA Cham­pi­onship.

“This so­lid­i­fied, in my opin­ion, that I’m a qual­ity golfer in the tri-state area and, most im­por­tant, al­lowed me to qual­ify for the Na­tional Club Pro [tour­na­ment],” Knoll said. “I feel I’m trending in the right di­rec­tion.”

Knoll, a math teacher at Palmer­ton High and new as­sis­tant pro at Glen Brook Golf Club in Strouds­burg, shot a ca­reer-low round Tues­day at Union League Golf Club at Tor­res­dale. He made seven birdies and an ea­gle in his 8-un­der 62.

Af­ter mak­ing birdie at No. 18, Knoll learned that he had bro­ken the course record set by Snead in 1941.

“It was the best round of my life,” Knoll said. “To do it in com­pe­ti­tion was mag­i­cal, to say the least.”

Knoll, 34, thought he played nearly as well Wed­nes­day, shoot­ing a 2-un­der 69 at River­ton Coun­try Club. That gave him a 5-shot lead head­ing into Thurs­day’s fi­nal round at Union League, where he would need most of those shots.

Thurs­day’s round did not go as well as Tues­day. Knoll didn’t make a birdie and shot a 6-over 40 on the front nine to watch his lead win­now. But he cor­rected course on the back nine, mak­ing a few par saves to win by two shots.

“Ob­vi­ously there were nerves in­volved with be­ing in the lead in the big­gest event of the year,” Knoll said “This was my tour­na­ment to lose, and that was a weird sen­sa­tion that I’ve never felt be­fore. And my score showed it, un­for­tu­nately.

“I knew I wasn’t play­ing well, but I had a cush­ion to use. You don’t want to use it, but in this case I did.”

Knoll, who tied for third at the rain-short­ened Le­high Val­ley Open in July, made a strong run at this year’s PGA Pro­fes­sional Cham­pi­onship. He shot an open­ing-round 67 in April and was in con­tention un­til late in the fourth round.

He’s pointed to­ward 2020 with even more con­fi­dence.

“I’m a big be­liever that ex­pe­ri­ence helps gain con­fi­dence,” Knoll said. “I know how my body re­acted in the spring in that po­si­tion. Hope­fully, if I can get into con­tention again, I can use that as some help.”

MORN­ING CALL FILE PHOTO

Alex Knoll broke Sam Snead’s 78-yearold course record with an open­inground 62 to win the Philadel­phia PGA Pro­fes­sional cham­pi­onship.

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