Augusta's Jeff Knox works his magic again as noncompeting marker
Augusta National member Jeff Knox knows how to score on the toughest holes at the course. That’s no surprise – the 56-year-old Augusta resident holds the course record from the members tee with 11-under-par 61.
Knox, off in the first group of the day Saturday as the club’s noncompeting marker for Eddie Pepperell, closed out his unofficial round by sinking a 40-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole, which had been birdied just five times in Friday’s second round.
Last year, Knox was the only person to birdie the 11th hole when he played with Paul Casey in the third round.
As an Augusta National member, Knox is not allowed to talk to the media. But Pepperell, who shot even-par 72, said Knox shot 74 counting the short putts he gave him in their match.
“I did beat him – you make sure you report that,” he told a group of reporters. “I don’t want any myths going around. Which makes me better than Rory McIlroy, apparently.”
Pepperell was referring to the 2014 Masters, when Knox beat McIlroy 70 to 71 when they were paired together in the third round. Since that round, Knox has always picked up on at least one green so he doesn’t have a true score.
Knox’s only birdie on Saturday was the one on No. 18, but he had a 5-footer for birdie on No. 15.
“I offered to give him the putt,” Pepperell said. “I said, ‘Pick it up, Jeff,’ and he refused to take it and then missed it. “He said, ‘I should have taken it,’ and he should have taken it. I wanted to be pretty generous (on the gimmes) in case he did beat me then I had an excuse. I wish I could have picked a few up.”
A noncompeting marker is needed when there is an odd number of players in the field after the cut is made Friday (65 this year).
Knox has now been a marker for at least one round in nine consecutive Masters. He’ll be off first again in the final round, unless someone withdraws.
Pepperell knew he’d be playing with a marker when the pairings came out Friday night, but didn’t know it would be Knox.
“I heard it would be someone. I didn’t know until I saw him on the range hitting balls,” Pepperell. “Then I saw him swinging it and I thought, ‘I’m in trouble.’ ” He has a really nice swing. The course is a little too long for him at this point, but man, he’s a good player. Short game is brilliant.”
Playing with Knox “was quite nice,” Pepperell said. “I always thought I’d want to just go out on my own and get it over with in two hours. It’s nice to have company, actually. Especially someone like Jeff. There is no pressure on him, obviously, and you can talk as much as you like and I like to talk on the course. He was perfect.”