Jim Knous wins the 51st San Juan Open

Jake Newby The Daily Times
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Down the stretch of Sunday's final round at the San Juan Open at the San Juan Country Club, Jim Knous said he knew he had to stay aggressive to win.

By birdying four times in the final seven holes, Knous was clutch, too, and he came away with the 51st San Juan Open title.

A native of Basalt, Colo., Knous entered the day tied with Nick Killpack and just a hair ahead of third-place Jimmy Gunn. Knous took care of business on the back nine, helping him shoot 22 under par and 66 on the day.

"Jimmy played really well on the front nine and then on the back, we both played all right - it was pretty much shot for shot," Knous said. "I knew I had to just keep the pedal down and keep making birdies to beat him."

Gunn shot a 67 Sunday, one day after firing the low round on Saturday at 63. By doing so, he leapfrogged Killpack, who struggled on the green and wound up shooting 15 under par with a 73 for the day.

Nathan Lashley regressed a bit off Saturday's 66 by shooting a 70 on Sunday, but did enough to jump ahead of Killpack for a third-place overall finish.

Cumulatively, Knous shot 262 over the four days. Gunn was just behind him at 264, while Lashley shot a 268 and Killpack finished with a 269. Knous, Gunn and Killpack were in the same group on Sunday, each teeing off at 10:45.

Heading into the 10th hole, Knous was just one stroke ahead of Gunn. There, Gunn ripped off a 40-foot drive and looked primed to move up the leaderboard, however he couldn't muster a substantial run after that.

Other than the blast on 10, he said he thought his driving was subpar on the day.

"It's weird because that's usually the best part of my game," Gunn said. "The drive on 10 gave me some confidence, but then there was that terrible bogey on 11. That set me back."

Gunn, who had 23 birdies and two eagles in total this week, said he thought he shot well on the final four holes, but should've done better.

"I don't know what happened on 17 there, I had a great yardage and I flew the green for some reason, and I knew I couldn't do that," Gunn said. "I made par, but you need to make a birdie putt there."

Knous, meanwhile, birdied on 17. Gunn then parred on 18 and needed Knous to make a mistake or two to pull off the win, but Knous got the results he was looking for to close it out.

"I was aiming at the middle of the green on 18 and just pulled it with my drive, but that was all right," he said. "It was a little heavy, but I knew I just had to pop it on the green and it would roll all the way to the pin, because it was a fast chip. I hit it just how I wanted."

Killpack came into the final round in a tie for first with Knous after shooting a 64 on Saturday, but his putting plagued him on Sunday.

"Today I just could not get a putt to drop," Killpack said. "I bogeyed the first hole. I had an easy, short putt and couldn't hit it. And then all my other bogeys were three-putts. So my speed wasn't very good."

Despite the five bogeys on Sunday, Killpack shot very well each of the four days. He said he'll compete in three qualifiers this summer, which take place in California, Idaho and Utah.

With a San Juan Open title under his belt and a hefty $15,000 purse, Knous said he also plans to compete in some tours, with the Colorado and Texas State Opens mixed in. He's also aiming to defend his title next year in what will be his fourth San Juan Open.

"The course played beautifully, it was very lush," he said. "The members and the sponsors take care of the players and everyone gets a pretty good place to stay. It's just a great tournament from top to bottom. I love it."

Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 and Follow him @JakeNewby07 on Twitter.