Augusta National member Jeff Knox has earned cult hero status in recent years thanks to his nearly-annual appearances on the fairways of Augusta National during tournament play.
Every year at The Masters, if an odd number of players make the cut, Augusta National assigns a non-competing marker to play alongside the pro who has the first tee time of the day. Knox has gotten that call each of the past nine years.
Eddie Pepperell, the candid Englishman playing in his first Masters, was unaware of the folk hero he was playing alongside until he saw him on Saturday morning hitting balls at the Tournament Practice Facility.
“I wasn’t sure I was playing with him until I saw him on the range hitting balls actually. And then I saw him swinging it and I thought, ‘I’m in trouble.’ He had a really nice swing,” Pepperell said in his normal self-effacing tone.
Knox is an accomplished amateur who holds the course record at Augusta National having shot an 11-under par 61 in 2003. While he occasionally picks up during his rounds in the tournament, his main objective is to make his playing partner’s round feel more normal than it would if he was playing as a single.
Playing alongside @PepperellEddie today, Augusta member Jeff Knox shot a 74.
Better than the first round scores of Justin Rose, Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama, Alex Noren, Danny Willett, Matt Fitzpatrick and Fred Couples. pic.twitter.com/76r86UcxmJ
— GOLFTV (@GOLFTV) April 13, 2019
Learning quickly of Knox’s mystique, Pepperell made sure to concede a few putts for fear he would face the same fate that befell others before him: getting beat by an amateur at the most popular tournament in the world.
“I did beat him, so make sure you report that. I don’t want any myths going around,” Pepperell said after shooting an even-par 72. “I did beat him, which makes me better than Rory McIlroy, apparently.
“The course is probably a little too long for him at this point, but man, he’s a good player and his short game is brilliant.”
While there were rumors swirling that the 56-year-old Knox could be replaced by Michael McDermott, an accomplished amateur and new Augusta National member, the wily veteran plotted his way around his home course in impressive fashion, draining a 30-foot putt on the 18th green.
“He was nice. Really good to play with, actually,” Pepperell said. “Dare I say it, the most friendly professional I’ve ever played with.”