Mexico Open: PGA Tour rookie Jake Knapp shares heartwarming routine after special round

Jake Knapp had a great Saturday at the Mexico Open at Vidanta, as the former UCLA Bruin waltzed around the golf course with little trouble.

He shot an 8-under 63 one day after he signed for 64, and now sits at 19-under through 54 holes. The rookie now leads by four shots heading into Sunday’s final round as he eyes his first PGA Tour title.

But no matter what he shoots, where he plays, or who he plays with on the PGA Tour, Knapp has established a special ritual that he does after every round.

He texts his late grandfather.

“He’s super special to me and my entire family, so I know he’s with me out there, and he’s watching,” Knapp said afterward, fighting back tears.

Jake Knapp, PGA Tour, Mexico Open at Vidanta

Jake Knapp reacts during the third round of the 2024 Mexico Open at Vidanta after making yet another birdie.
Photo by Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images

“[I text him] that I miss him, miss talking to him, wish he could see it. It was always my dream and his dream as well for me to get out here.”

Knapp’s grandfather, whose initials are tattooed on his left bicep, passed away at the beginning of last year.

He and his cousin got matching tattoos a few months later to honor their grandfather, whom Knapp spoke with after every round he played.

“My family and I talk a lot about it,” Knapp added.

“I am just very thankful to have a grandparent that was so close and involved in my professional life and our lives in general.”

Undoubtedly, his grandfather watched over his grandson with a big smile on Saturday, as Knapp set the 9-hole scoring record on the opening side.

He made birdies on every hole except the 2nd and the 8th, both par-4s, to go out with a 7-under 28.

It must have been ‘Knapptime,’ which is the moniker he uses on his social media handles.

“I can’t complain, obviously. I feel like I struck the ball about the same as the last couple of days,” Knapp said of his hot start.

Jake Knapp, PGA Tour, Mexico Open at Vidanta

Jake Knapp’s tattoo honoring his late grandfather.
Photo by Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images

“Just hitting it really well, driving it well. I was able to roll in some more putts. Felt like once I was able to see a couple go in early, it just felt like kind of everything was going in for a little while there.”

Knapp leads the field in overall strokes gained, driving distance, and greens in regulation. He blisters it off the tee, averaging 328.4 yards this week.

But Knapp, who finished 12th on the Korn Ferry Tour last season, has learned that finding fairways is more critical than bombing tee balls.

“I‘ve realized over the past few years and especially this year that fairways are a premium, so I tend to hit a lot of that spinny-cut shot to get it in play,” Knapp said.

“Especially when I’m hitting the ball well, I know if I can just get it in play off the tee, I can give myself a lot of chances from there.”

He gave himself more than his fair share of chances on Saturday, which surely delighted his grandfather in heaven.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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