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Posted April 08, 2018 09:04 pm |

Notebook: Jeff Knox impresses again in Masters marker role

Marker plays well in pairing with former champ Singh
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    Notebook: Jeff Knox impresses again in Masters marker role
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    Marc Leishman chips onto the first green during the final round of the Masters on Sunday. He finished in ninth place. [ANDREW DAVIS TUCKER/THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE]

     

Augusta's Jeff Knox, the noncompeting marker for the second day, drew a Masters Tournament champion as his playing partner in Sunday's final round.

Knox, who shot an unofficial 76 because he picked up a short putt, was paired with 2000 winner Vijay Singh, who closed with 71.

It was the fourth Masters champion Knox has been paired with as a marker. He'd previously played twice with both Bubba Watson and Sandy Lyle and once with Craig Stadler.

Knox had birdies on Nos. 2 and 7 on Sunday. On Saturday, he was the only player in the field to make birdie on the par-4 11th hole, where he hit 3-wood for his second shot to 35 feet and made the putt.

He played on Saturday with Paul Casey, who had 69 that day and 65 on Sunday. Casey raved about Knox after Saturday's round and then again Sunday.

"It was just wonderful to play with a gentleman and little bit of a legend on the weekend," Casey said of Knox. "To see the way he approaches this golf course, positions the golf ball and then the speed of his putts, that's just very nice to see and wonderful to play with, because it's the way I like to play this golf course."

 

HOFFMAN'S ACE: The shot was nowhere close to where Charley Hoffman was aiming.

Given the result, he wasn't going to complain.

PHOTOS: Sunday's Round at the Masters

Hoffman pulled his 6-iron well left of his target on the par-3 No. 16, but it mattered little. The ball carried the bunker, hit right and ran right into the hole, giving Hoffman a hole-in-one at the Masters.

"I was just hoping to carry the bunker and the thing kicked right and fell into the hole," Hoffman said. "I feel very, very lucky. I was aiming right trying to funnel it down like everybody else does and I just pulled it. I was happy when it got over the bunker and then it was like, 'Whoa, that took a bounce toward the pin.' Obviously, it's a great feeling that went through the body."

Hoffman's ace was indeed huge. It followed a birdie on No. 15 and got him to 6 under for the tournament. Hoffman tied for 12th, just enough to clinch a spot in next year's Masters.

"I knew going into today that I really didn't have a chance to win the green jacket," Hoffman said. "I was trying to play myself into contention to come back next year without having to worry about world ranking or anything like that. I knew I had to play those last four holes well. ... I thought 6 under would be it."

 

TOP 10 FOR NO. 1: Dustin Johnson couldn't produce a hot start to push the leaders, despite an early birdie on No. 2.

A bogey on 7 and par on 8 left him at even for the day. He attempted a late surge on the second nine, with four birdies in six holes, but bogeys on 16 and 18 left him at 3-under 69 for the day and a tie for 10th with Tony Finau at 7-under 281.

It's his best finish in a major since a tie for ninth at the 2016 British Open and his U.S. Open win just before that.

 

FLEETING FAME: One day after a back-nine birdie barrage to surge into the top six, Tommy Fleetwood couldn't replicate the effort in the final round.

The Englishman had a rare bogey on a par 5 -- making bogey on the second hole -- and couldn't recover, shooting 74 to finish at 4-under 274 and tie for 17th.

Fleetwood had birdies on Nos. 9 and 13, but made bogeys on 15 and 18 coming in to fall out of the top 12 and an automatic exemption into the 2019 event.

 

LATE RUSH: Marc Leishman went from the final pairing on Saturday to nearly falling out of the top 25 midway through Sunday's final round. Then the tall Australian saved his week over the final seven holes.

Leishman had five birdies coming in to shoot 32 on the second nine, a 2-under 70 on Sunday and an 8-under 280 total to finish ninth. The biggest was a 29-foot putt up the hill on 16, but he also nearly holed out on 14 and had an 8-footer on 18.