AUGUSTA, Ga. – Rory McIlroy was hoping for a little sympathy on the 18th green.
McIlroy birdied three of his final four holes in the third round, shooting a 1-under 71, but got beat by his amateur playing partner.
Jeff Knox, one of the best amateur golfers who happens to be a member at Augusta National, was selected to serve as a non-competing marker because an odd number of players made the cut. And Knox showed McIlroy a thing or two about Augusta. Knox shot 2-under 70 despite bogeying No. 18.
“I thought he was going to be nice and three-putt the last and we would have a half, but he beat me by one,” McIlroy said. “He obviously knows this place so well and gets it around. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone putt the greens as well as he does around here. He was really impressive. I was thinking of maybe getting him to read a few of my putts out there.”
GENTLE BEN: Ben Crenshaw first showed up at the Masters as a 20-year-old amateur out of Texas. Next year will be his 44th consecutive appearance – and his last one.
Crenshaw told Golf Channel that he has decided 2015 will be his final year playing the Masters.
Crenshaw won his first Masters in 1984, memorable for that 60-foot putt he made on the 10th hole. Even more special was 1995, when he won the Masters after starting the week as a pallbearer at the funeral of longtime coach Harvey Penick.
“I’ve thought about it for a long time,” Crenshaw said about retiring from Masters competition. “A lot of times I thought that I could have stepped down earlier. It is hard – very hard. But I have been so fortunate. I have to look at the good things that have happened. I have to pull over and watch.”
Crenshaw last made the cut at Augusta in 2007.
STANDING ROOM ONLY: Amen Corner is more crowded than a church on Easter.
Augusta National’s famed three-hole stretch is packed 20, 30, 40 deep at most parts, leaving little room to walk between the 11th and 13th fairways.
Everyone there was treated to a lengthy wait Saturday, too.
There was about 40 minutes before Jason Day and Joost Luiten arrived after Rory McIlroy and a marker played through, so fans stood, sat, lounged, drank, ate and chatted.
They had no choice but to fellowship with neighbors since the Masters doesn’t allow cellphones on the course and doesn’t have any televisions or video boards providing updates.
TOUGH TEST: With the wind picking up and bright sun drying out greens, Augusta National looks primed to deliver another tough afternoon of golf at the Masters.
That might just help leader Bubba Watson. At least Rory McIlroy thinks so.
“I hit my second shot into the first today at about 10:20 and I’m thinking, ‘I don’t know what this green is going to be like at 2:30,”’ McIlroy said. “It’s going to be tough. It’s going to be firm. And I think that gives Bubba a little bit of advantage how high he hits it and how soft he can get the ball to come down. It all depends. I think it will be more about if Bubba comes back to the field rather than the field going to him.”
Watson is 7 under heading into 2:45 p.m. tee time.