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Augusta member Knox plays with Tiger, beats Rory

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AUGUSTA, Ga. – Rory McIlroy wrote him a letter to inquire about a “couple of practice rounds,” he reportedly beat Sergio Garcia during a tournament round at Augusta National a few years ago and last week Jeff Knox was drafted into the role of Tiger Woods’ playing partner.

Knox is an Augusta National member and a noncompeting marker at the Masters when the field has an odd number of players, including last year when he was paired with McIlroy who he beat by a shot.

According to various sources, Knox played with Woods on Friday at Augusta National as the former world No. 1 prepared to return to competitive golf. It was Woods’ second scouting trip to the course and was followed a few hours later by an announcement that he would play next week’s Masters.

According to the Augusta Chronicle in 2011, Knox holds the club’s course record from the member tees, an 11-under 61 he shot in 2003.

McIlroy was so impressed with Knox’s game, and his knowledge of Augusta National, he said he planned to solicit advice from him before this year’s tournament, where the Ulsterman will be vying to complete the career Grand Slam.

“Playing with Jeff, it was a treat for me to see how he played the golf course,” McIlroy said earlier this year. “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.”

McIlroy is hardly the only player to get beat by Knox. Garcia reportedly lost to him in 2006 when the Spaniard carded a closing-round 73, and even defending champion Bubba Watson had a brush with him in 2013.

“I’ve known him since I was in college because he’s a Bulldog [University of Georgia]. He’s a really good player,” said Watson, who was paired with Knox in Round 3.

Ernie Els was paired with Knox in the third round at the 2011 Masters.

“We had a great time. He was a joy to play with and quite a player. He was a quick player,” Els said recently after being told Knox beat McIlroy last year. “Thank goodness he had a bad hole with me, I could have been under some pressure there.”