AUGUSTA, Ga. — The world’s luckiest amateur golfer is at it again. Jeff Knox, Augusta National’s designated “marker,” teed off on Saturday morning alongside former world No. 1 Jason Day, and he’ll get to play the course again on Sunday. Not a bad weekend gig.
Knox is Augusta National’s regular playing partner whenever the cut line results in an odd number of players. He’s there to help keep score, keep pace, and even keep company for the lone golfer who’s got the misfortune to tee off first on the weekend. Knox has plenty of game; he holds the course record at Augusta with a 61 … from the member tees, that is; his best from the pro tees is a still-nice 69. At his day job, Knox is a local businessman whose Knox Foundation distributes funds to deserving Augusta-area universities and children’s hospitals.
• His first year as a marker came in 2003; he partnered with Craig Stadler twice and beat him both days.
• Knox once outdrove Miguel Angel Jimenez on two different holes even though Jimenez jokingly asked him to go easy.
• Sergio Garcia, Knox’s playing partner in 2006, reputedly made the match interesting with a little wager. But according to local history, Knox won by a stroke and Garcia didn’t shake hands afterward.
• Knox beat McIlroy in 2014 by a stroke. “I thought he was going to be nice and three-putt the last and we would have a half, but he beat me by one,” McIlroy said. “He obviously knows this place so well and gets it around. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone putt the greens as well as he does around here. He was really impressive. I was thinking of maybe getting him to read a few of my putts out there.”
• Last year, Knox led Bubba Watson by two strokes before dunking a ball in Rae’s Creek at the 12th. (That was the round that led to one of golf’s great recent jabs: Watson landed in the deep woods and asked a patron to move. “You’re not supposed to be back here,” Watson said. “Neither is your ball,” the patron replied.)
This marks the seventh consecutive year, and tenth time overall, that Knox has played the course during the Masters. Over the years, Knox has established about an even record against his playing partners, though it’s worth noting that Knox isn’t playing for anything other than pride. He’ll tee it up again on Sunday against whichever player ends up finishing last on Saturday. And that player, whoever he may be, will have a tough fight to salvage some pride.
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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at email@example.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.