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Marker Edges McIlroy by a Stroke
With Rory McIlroy needing a playing partner on Saturday in the third round of the Masters, Augusta National Golf Club member Jeff Knox stepped in to fill the opening.
Because an odd number of players make the weekend cut, one player - in this case the 51st and the first to tee off - needs a partner. Knox is the club's official "marker," the designation given to the tournament representative who fills that role.
And Knox can play. In addition to winning 2008 and 2009 amateur championships in Georgia, the executive director of Augusta's Knox Foundation holds the course's record, an 11-under 61, which he shot in 2001. He made that score from the member tees, not the pro tees, where his best round is a 69.
On Saturday Knox carded a 2-under 70 while playing alongside McIlroy, a two-time major champion, who shot a 71.
Knox said the hardest part is playing well in front of the galleries that line the iconic course. "I've played in a good bit of competition, of course, but nothing like this," he said in 2012. "The first couple of holes is a little nerve-racking. The first shot on No. 1, definitely. You just want to elevate the ball, that's my goal. Get it off the tee."
Though Knox wasn't available for a comment after his round with the Northern Irishman, McIlroy didn't hesitate to laud the playing ability of his Saturday partner.
"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 joked. "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."
Jim Furyk, who finished the 2014 Masters tied for 14th at 1-over 289, said Knox could "beat half the field who made the cut."