Raymond Knoll's summer success a good sign for Iowa men's golf

BY CHARLES GREEN | JULY 29, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Iowa men’s golf team has a group of young talent that most programs could only dream of, and no player has been more impressive this summer than sophomore Raymond Knoll.

“Raymond is learning how to be more consistent,” Iowa men’s golf head coach Mark Hankins said. “When he plays his own game, we know he can play with the best of them.”

Two weeks ago, Knoll won the 84th Illinois State Amateur Championship in a four-hole playoff after posting a score of 8-under. Earlier in the summer, he won the Pine Hills Invitational, tying a tournament record at 7-under.

“I think I’ve been more consistent, and that has made me more confident,” he said.

The native of Naperville, Illinois, notched the win less than a week after playing in the John Deere Classic — his first-ever PGA event. In the classic, he finished at 3-over, missing the cut by a mere 4 strokes.

In qualifying for the event, Knoll connected on a 40-foot eagle putt that all but sealed his position. He was able to share that surreal moment with his mother, but he doesn’t recall much of the specifics because of his overwhelming emotions.

Still not even halfway through college, Knoll has competed with some of golf’s biggest names — including Zach Johnson, one of his idols.

“I’m always looking forward to playing and getting better,” Knoll said. “It’s nice to see hard work paying off.”

He has also qualified as the first alternate for the U.S. Amateur Championship, which will begin Aug. 11 at the Atlanta AthleticS Club in Johns Creek, Ga.

“He hits the ball straight, and when he is putting well can really string birdies together,” Hankins said. “He continues to get better and better.”

This past season, Knoll was a key golfer for the Hawkeyes — who made their sixth consecutive NCAA regional appearance. Two other Big Ten schools — Illinois and Northwestern — have only matched that feat in that stretch.

Knoll also finished tied for 12th at the Big Ten championships with a score of 12-over, and he had the third-best stroke average for the Hawkeyes over the course of the season.

His most impressive performance last year came at the Purdue Invitational, in which he finished sixth. Knoll scored a 66 in the final round of the invitational, one of the best scores in a single round in Iowa’s history.

“He’s a guy who just loves golf,” assistant coach Dan Holterhaus said. “And that’s something we can never have enough of as a team.”

Both coaches laud Knoll for his accuracy off the tee and from the fairway, and they love the attitude he has on a daily basis.

“He always has a smile on his face when coming to practice every day,” Holterhaus said. “He expects to be part of a winning team. That attitude is infectious for the rest of the team.”

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