PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Rory McIlroy is making his season debut at the Honda Classic, an appearance that signals the Masters is officially approaching.
McIlroy has tournaments scheduled for three of the next four weeks, but in between starts he plans to visit Augusta National in advance of the season’s first major. The Ulsterman also hopes to solicit some advice from a surprising source – amateur Jeff Knox.
Knox is an avid player who serves as a competitive marker at the Masters when the field has an odd number of players. Last year that job meant a third-round tee time with McIlroy, who Knox then beat by a shot.
“Playing with Jeff, it was a treat for me to see how he played the golf course,” McIlroy said Wednesday. “I think I shot 71 to maybe Jeff’s 70. So even though everyone said, ‘Oh, you got beat by an amateur,’ not many amateurs can shoot (70) off the Masters tee at Augusta.”
The encounter led McIlroy to write a letter to Knox last summer asking to play a “couple of practice rounds” with him, and McIlroy reiterated that he plans to seek out his former playing partner as he prepares to chase the career Grand Slam.
“I picked his brain a little bit on the way around (last year), and I’m sure I’ll catch up with him when I make a visit up there in a few weeks’ time,” McIlroy said. “For being not quite a nice position to be in, going off first at the weekend at Augusta, it did turn into quite a positive for me, which was nice.”