PGA Tour's next big thing (?) reveals his golf idol...and it's not Tiger or Rory

Having played the opening round of the Cognizant Classic alongside Rory McIlroy, Jake Knapp revealed he had a surprising golf idol growing up.

PGA Tour's next big thing (?) reveals his golf idol...and it's not Tiger or Rory
PGA Tour's next big thing (?) reveals his golf idol...and it's not Tiger…

It's fair to say most young American golfers idolised Tiger Woods growing up.

However, new PGA Tour star Jake Knapp also drew inspiration from a surprising star as a junior golfer.

Knapp, 29, burst onto the scene last week when he won the Mexico Open, and the long hitter has already become a popular figure on Tour due to his unorthodox style and effortless power.

Having almost given up golf in 2021, he has had a rocky route to the top, working his way up the golfing ladder while also holding down a job as a security guard at a country club in his native Costa Mesa.

The Californian wowed crowds in Mexico with his effortless power, leading the field in average driving distance (322 yards).

Knapp was paired up with another long hitter for the first round of the Cognizant Classic at The Palm Beaches when he teed it up alongside Rory McIlroy on Thursday.

The pair enjoyed a productive day on the course, with McIlroy shooting 4-under and Knapp sitting one shot back at 3-under.

Speaking to the media after his round, Knapp was questioned about who inspired him as a young golfer, and his answer may surprise you.

He said:

"I was Tiger for sure and then I was actually a big Luke Donald fan, big Dustin Johnson fan, so those were kind of the three guys that I looked up to. Then obviously over the last few years, a lot of people have tried to emulate Rory and just all the things he does on and off the course.

When asked to elaborate on his admiration of Donald, Knapp added:

"Like growing up I was super undersized as a kid, and I didn't grow until like my junior year in high school. At the time he was around World No. 1 and just an insanely good short game, really good at putting, so I tried to take after his game and focus on those two things, and then as I started to hit it farther, started to transition more into the DJ category."

While Knapp's admiration for McIlroy is clear, the feelings appear to be mutual.

Speaking about the young star, McIlroy said:

"He's the full package. He could be a superstar out here for sure."

McIlroy and Knapp tee off for their second round today alongside Chris Kirk at 5:40pm GMT.

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