Knauth Named Recipient of 2022 Byron Nelson Award presented by Srixon/Cleveland Golf
(NORMAN, Okla.) – Senior William Knauth (Williamsport, Pa. / Williamsport Area) of the Carnegie Mellon University men's golf team has been named the 2022 Byron Nelson Award presented by Srixon/Cleveland Golf recipient, the Golf Coaches Association of America and Salesmanship Club of Dallas announced today.
The recipient, a graduating senior, is recognized for his achievement in the classroom, on the course, and in his community. Particular consideration is given to their good citizenship, as portrayed by Mr. Nelson over the course of his life and golf career.
"I would never expect anything like this," said Knauth. "It's the greatest honor I could ever be given as a college golfer and, most importantly, as a person."
Knauth is the second Division III athlete to win the award, joining Washington & Lee's Nathaniel James (2008). The Williamsport, Pennsylvania, native graduates this week with a dual degree in physics and mathematical sciences and carries a 3.90 GPA. He has campaigned to become an Iron Phi for the LiveLikeLou Foundation to support ALS awareness, education and treatment. Knauth also volunteers time with The Education Partnership in Pittsburgh, which helps teachers in local schools with supplies and support with STEM education and activities, the Homeless Children's Education Fund supporting homeless children in Pittsburgh, the First Church in Williamsport, preparing meals for elderly residents, and FreshCheckDay at Carnegie Mellon, an event to raise mental health awareness and support on campus and in the community.
The senior has been conducting new research in machine learning and artificial intelligence, specifically in interpretability, robustness and model simplification without sacrificing performance and has written two academic journal articles on the topic with a patent application submitted. He has an award-nominated project in computer science, "StrategyGolf," which uses advanced mutually recursive algorithms to predict expected strokes to hole out from any point on a golf course.
The 2021 PING All-American leads Division III in scoring average this season through 22 rounds with a 71.0. He has recorded 15 rounds this season of even par or under. Knauth as claimed two individual medalist honors at the Division III Showcase and Wabash Invitational. He owns two school records with the lowest 18-hole round of six-under par 65 in back-to-back rounds at the 2021 Golfweek DIII Fall Invitational and recently tied the lowest 36-hole tournament score at the Division III Showcase with a 137. At the University Athletic Association Championship match play, Knauth was named the tournament Most Valuable Golfer. In 70 career rounds he holds a 73.7 average.
He is also a two-time Division III Cleveland Golf/Srixon All-America Scholar and is competing with the Tartans this week in the 2022 NCAA Division III Championships at Mission Inn Resort & Club in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida.
"Will has worked extremely hard for everything he's gotten, and I think that he deserves this," said head coach Dan Rodgers. "He has matured as a young man into who he is now, exemplifying what Byron Nelson meant through his character, sportsmanship, and play."
Knauth echoes Mr. Nelson's meaning throughout his daily life.
"I would love to continue the reputation that Mr. Nelson had for treating everyone in the most gentlemanly, respectful, and attentive manner," he said. "I hope that whoever I come into contact with throughout my life, whether it's related to golf or not, comes away feeling happy that they met me and that I touched their life in some way. That's what gives me the greatest satisfaction that I could ever get out of my life. If you do those things and keep your head down, good things will come, and I think that that should be a message that's broadcasted out there."
Rodgers talks highly of Knauth's on-course improvements during his time in Pittsburgh.
"The amount of improvement he's made in the four years he has been with us has been extraordinary," added Rodgers. "It's truly unbelievable to me that he's been able to figure it out the way that he's figured it out, and if there was anybody I could pick to win this award, it would be him. He means a lot to me."
As recipient of the Byron Nelson Award presented by Srixon/Cleveland Golf, Knauth will receive an exemption to play in the 2023 AT&T Byron Nelson at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas.
About the Byron Nelson Award
The purpose of the Byron Nelson Award is to select annually the outstanding Division I, II, III, or NAIA scholar-athlete of the year. The recipient, a graduating senior, is recognized for his achievement in the classroom, on the course, and in his community. Past winners include McClure Meissner (SMU), John Murphy (Louisville), Ryan Lumsden (Northwestern), Matthew Perrine (Baylor), Maverick McNealy (Stanford), Stephen Behr (Clemson), Anders Albertson (Georgia Tech), Brandon Hagy (Cal), Brinson Paolini (Duke), Dylan Frittelli (Texas), Cyril Bouniol (Abilene Christian), Brendan Gielow (Wake Forest), James White (Georgia Tech), Mike Van Sickle (Marquette), Nathaniel James (Washington & Lee), Sam Korbe (Tulsa), Roberto Castro (Georgia Tech), Zack Robinson (Oklahoma State), Michael Putnam (Pepperdine), Billy Hurley (Navy), Troy Matteson (Georgia Tech), and Jason Allred (Pepperdine).