Stogies at breakfast time, anyone?
Spain's cigar-chomping Miguel Angel Jimenez was the odd man out of the 45 players to make the cut at Augusta. So when the third round got underway this morning, he would have teed it up alone if it weren't for the tradition in golf to have a marker play with him to keep his score. Up stepped Jeff Knox, a local resident and Augusta National member. Knox's family runs a local charity foundation, and he is regarded as one of the best amateurs in Augusta, having played in Georgia state championships and the US Mid-Amateur.
The 45-year-old Knox, a 2-handicapper, shot 77 to Jimenez's even-par 72. (He was three over for the tournament.) "Playing with a Ryder Cup star was such a learning experience," Knox said after his round.
He said he wasn't nervous on the 12th tee despite all the spectators, which seemed surprising until he revealed that this was his fifth appearance in the Masters. In 2003, he twice outscored the 1982 champion, Craig Stadler. In 2006, he played with Jim Furyk and Sergio Garcia. "I played pretty good against Sergio," Knox said. "I matched him with a par round. But Furyk shot 67 the day before, so I didn't fare too well against him."
Knox's round against Jimenez got off to a spanking start on Saturday. He outdrove him on the first hole. Jimenez, with a wry smile on his face, wagged his finger at Knox and said: "Don't you dare outdrive me again!"
Knox clearly wasn't paying attention. "I outdrove him again at the 10th," Knox said, grinning. "The only time I felt nervous though, was when I had to play my first iron shot of the day for my second shot into the first green."
The pressure was on after that impressive opening drive? "Yeah, that was nerve-racking," he admitted.
Knox said his best score off the back tees is three under. That's impressive, and he will have the chance to add to his resume when he tees it up on Sunday with Sandy Lyle, the 1988 Masters champion and the 1985 British Open champion.