David J. Phillip
# mystery man
Meet Jeff Knox: the almost-mythical figure at The Masters who plays but doesn't compete
It’s one of sports quirkiest stories.

IF YOU WERE paying particular attention to Jason Day’s third-round at Augusta on Saturday, you may have caught a glimpse of his playing partner.

Not that you probably recognised him.

Golf aficionados certainly know of Jeff Knox but even they’d struggle to point him out in a crowd.

Still, he doesn’t need the celebrity. He probably has the best gig in golf regardless.

In the pantheon of quirky sports tales, Knox’s is close to the top of the list. The 54-year-old is a director of the non-profit Knox Foundation in Thomson, Georgia. But he’s also played in eight US Masters, including the last five.

What’s the catch?

Well, it’s customary each year for every golfer playing at Augusta to have a partner. But sometimes, after the cut is made, there’s an odd number remaining in the field.

And that’s where Knox comes in. He’s the hand-picked member who plays alongside certain golfers as they try and navigate the course. But he doesn’t compete.

Down through the years, he’s partnered with Keegan Bradley, Miguel Ángel Jiménez, Jim Furyk, Ernie Els and Sergio Garca. In 2014, he was with Rory McIlroy. And in each case, he’s had a remarkable ability to embarrass the elite athletes alongside him.

McIlroy racked up a 71 during his third-round that year only for Knox to card a 70. Afterwards, McIlroy said:

“He’s the best I’ve ever seen on Augusta’s greens”.

In fact, everyone at Augusta wants to partner with Knox. And for one simple reason: knowledge.

McIlroy himself said it.

“He knows every blade of grass. That’s so key—more than anywhere else we play.”

Augusta is essentially Knox’s playground. As a member, he can play there anytime he wants. His local house is 2 miles away from the course. Door-to-door, it’s about a four-minute drive.

For what it’s worth, it’s believed Knox hit a five-over-par 77 alongside Day on Saturday – not his best but certainly competitive. And hardly surprising for the few who actually know who he is.

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