Club member Jeff Knox plays with Steve Stricker as noncompeting marker

Jeff Knox will have to start a new winning streak as Augusta National’s noncompeting marker.

Knox, a club member who has been called on since 2002 to play with the last-place player when there is an odd number of golfers in the Masters Tournament field after 36 holes, was beaten Sat­urday by Steve Stricker, who had 73.

Knox, who is not allowed by the club to talk to the media, had 77, according to friends who followed him and kept track of his score.

Last year, Knox famously shot 70 in the third round and beat Rory McIlroy by a shot. The next day, he beat 1987 Masters champion Larry Mize.

Knox became so well known in golf circles after beating McIlroy that he was included in one poll about how Tiger Woods would play in this year’s Masters. The top three choices were:

• Woods would win.

• Woods would make the cut and contend.

• Woods would make the cut and play with Jeff Knox one day.

That third choice won’t happen because Woods rocketed up the leaderboard Saturday.

Instead, Knox, 52, will play with Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee in the first group off Sunday. Jaidee has shot 75-70-80 and is last in the field.

McIlroy was so impressed with Knox’s prowess on the hard-to-read Augusta National greens last year that he hoped to play a practice round with him in the weeks leading up to this Masters. That fell through because Knox was not feeling well.

Stricker, who had never met Knox before Saturday, noticed that Knox “never misread a putt.”

Knox is 100 percent healthy now, though a little tired, his wife, Catherine, said after the round. Knox is on the pin-setting committee and is at the course early each morning. The alarm clock at the Knox house was set for 4:25 a.m. Saturday, his wife said.

As a marker, Knox keeps his playing partner’s scorecard and helps with pace of play.

“It’s different (to play with a club member), but it’s nice to actually play with somebody,” Stricker said. “I thought I was going to go out there by myself and it wasn’t the case.

“It helps to play with somebody, especially of his caliber,” Stricker said. “He’s a good player, and I could tell he’s been around here a few times.”

Knox would have been around par if not for a triple bogey on No. 15 and bogey on No. 18, where he left a shot in the right greenside bunker. The highlight of his round was an 8-foot birdie on No. 17.

“He hit a great shot on 17 with a utility club,” Stricker said. “There are going to be some leaders who want that birdie at the end of the day.”

 

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