Colt Knost, United States
2007 – World number one for five weeks
Colt Knost never did play in the Masters, making him unique among U.S. Amateur champions. The Garrettsville, Ohio native had the season of his life in 2007. He won the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Public Links Championships, and helped the United States defeat Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team at Royal County Down. Knost went undefeated in his four matches, winning two and halving two as the U.S. won 12.5-11.5. The Southern Methodist University student then stunned the golf world by turning professional, thereby turning down invitations to the 2008 Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship.
Knost made a fast start to his professional career when he won two Nationwide (now the Korn Ferry Tour) tournaments during the 2008 season, the Fort Smith Classic and Cutter Charity Championship.
Those two victories helped Knost finish sixth on the 2008 Nationwide money list to earn his card for the 2009 PGA Tour. However, he struggled to replicate that form among the world’s best players.
Knost’s best PGA Tour season came in 2016 when he finished 79th on the money list with two third place finishes, including the Players Championship. He reached a career high of 92nd on the Official World Golf Ranking in July that year.
A wrist injury in 2017 seriously hampered Knost’s game, eventually forcing his retirement at the beginning of this year to take up a media job with CBS Sports.
Although he missed out on the Masters, Knost did play in the U.S. Open (2012) and Open Championship (2016), but missed the cut in both.
Alison Lee, United States
2013 – World number one for 16 weeks
Like Knost, Lee couldn’t wait to turn professional. She was in such a hurry that she only played one and a half seasons of college golf at UCLA before entering the LPGA Qualifying School. However, Lee left her mark in amateur golf.
The Los Angeles native won nine times on the American Junior Golf Association circuit, and was a six time All-American between 2008-2013. She played in three consecutive victorious U.S. Junior Solheim Cup teams between 2009-2013. She also played in two U.S. Junior Ryder Cups in 2010 and 2012.
Lee joined UCLA in September 2013 and became world number one in October after winning the Stanford Intercollegiate. She ended her only full college season by winning the inaugural ANNIKA Award as the top collegiate female golfer for 2013-14 season. She was Pac-12 Player and Freshman of the Year after winning the 2014 Pac-12 Championship. In 2014, she played in the Curtis Cup, winning three matches, halving one and losing one.
Lee earned her LPGA card at the end of 2014 by finishing joint number one at the LPGA Qualifying School. She made an immediate impact in her rookie 2015 season, finishing 23rd on the LPGA money list with six top 10s. She also made her Solheim Cup debut.
The 2016 season saw Lee post five top-10 finishes including runner up in the LPGA Hana Bank Championship, when she lost in a playoff to Spain’s Carlota Ciganda. It is her best LPGA finish to date. She reached her highest status on the Rolex Rankings that season, 21st, after a fourth-place finish in the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic.
Lee has struggled to match her early success on the LPGA but, at 25, her best years probably still lie ahead of her.