Playing alongside marker Jeff Knox, Jason Day climbs Masters leaderboard

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Playing alongside marker Jeff Knox, Jason Day climbs Masters leaderboard

PGA Tour

Playing alongside marker Jeff Knox, Jason Day climbs Masters leaderboard

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AUGUSTA, Ga. – When Jason Day stepped on the first tee shortly before 10:20 a.m. local time for Saturday’s opening pairing of the 81st Masters, his playing competitor, none other than Augusta National member Jeff Knox, greeted him. Knox, Day’s non-competing marker for the round, then revealed that he was feeling a touch of nerves.

“And in my head I’m like, ‘I’m kind of nervous because I don’t want to let my marker beat me,’ ” Day said.

Knox is serving as a marker for the seventh straight Masters and 10th overall since first playing alongside Craig Stadler for two rounds in 2003. Day was aware that in 2014 Knox, who holds the Augusta National course record of 61 from the members’ tees, beat Rory McIlroy by a shot with an unofficial 2-under 70 in the third round.

Two holes into their round Saturday, Day bogeyed the par-5 second hole – and just like that Knox had a 1-up lead on him. But Day caught fire after that. He birdied the par-4 third, nearly aced the par-3 sixth and made four straight birdies, at Nos. 12-15. (His birdie at the par-5 15th came after he pulled his drive into the left trees before knocking it on the green with a skilled shot from the pine straw and two-putting.)

“I’m glad I ended up tearing up the back side,” Day said with a smile.

Day’s third-round 69 didn’t get him into contention Saturday morning – when he wrapped up his round, he was still seven shots back of the leaders at 4 under. But it did give him some confidence entering Sunday.

“I’ve got to shoot a really good one,” Day said “… Hopefully, if I can put everything together, I could give it a good shot, but once again, the first two days kind of put me out of it and today was a good round to get myself back to good form.”

Day said his wife, Ellie, “was kind of ready to slap me in the face because I was so negative with myself” after Day shot 78 in Round 2. That round included a back nine of 5-over 41. Day apologized for his bad attitude Friday afternoon and was much more positive Saturday.

The Aussie knows he doesn’t have a great chance of winning his first green jacket this year. But he also know that stranger things have happened on Sunday at Augusta. He just wants to turn in a low round in the final round and give himself the best finish possible.

“I feel like I can actually play golf again, which is great,” Day said.

One thing he won’t do Sunday: play another round with Knox.

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