An odd number of players made this weekend’s cut (53 of 93) at the Masters, meaning one golfer would have to play by himself in each of the final two rounds.
That’s where Jeff Knox comes in.
Knox will never see his name on the Masters leaderboard, but he is as much a staple of the tournament as the champions’ dinner and the ceremonial tee shot. Masters rules require the lone player to play with a “marker” to keep the pace of the day and help put the participant into his usual rhythm, and Augusta National always chooses Knox, the club’s best player who holds the member record with a 61 he shot in 2003.
Knox made a name for himself in 2014 by shooting 70 on Saturday, beating Rory McIlroy by a shot, and then beating 1987 Masters champion Larry Mize the next day.
But he wasn’t as fortunate against Jason Day Saturday, who carded four consecutive birdies on the back nine to finish with a 3-under 69.
“He said he was nervous on the first tee and I’m like, in my head I’m like, I’m kind of nervous because I don’t want to let my marker beat me,” Day said. “So, it was kind of neck and neck. I bogeyed the second hole and he parred it and he was, kind of had a little 1-up lead there for a bit, so I’m glad I ended up carrying out the back side.”
Day, ranked No. 3 in the world, almost aced the sixth hole and jumped nearly 20 spots to a tie for 27th with his 69. It was a nice turnaround from his first two rounds.
“My wife over there, she was kind of ready to slap me in the face because I was so negative with myself,” Day said. “She’s like, ‘You better get it out now before the kids get back.’”
Knox will play with Ernie Els on Sunday. Els entered the day at just 3 over, but now sits in last place at plus-14 after shooting an 83.
Follow Ben Volin on Twitter at @BenVolin.