AUGUSTA, Ga. — There was a changing of the guard at Augusta National Golf Club when it made the call for a noncompeting marker on Friday.
Michael McDermott is the new mystery man trying his best to stay in the shadows and out of the way of his playing partner in the Masters Tournament.
In the Masters, a marker, who is an Augusta National member, plays when there is an uneven number of players in the field. He is identified on the first tee before he tees off, but that’s it. He has no score and his name is not on the back of his caddie’s jumpsuit.
For more than two decades, Augusta National member Jeff Knox, an Augusta, Georgia, resident, had served in that role. Family sources said Knox had been told before the 2021 Masters that McDermott would be filling that role.
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McDermott, of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, had been waiting in the wings for the call for two years before he was needed.
Knox was there Friday to wish him well. He sat inside the ropes behind the first tee with other members, filming McDermott’s first tee shot, which carried to top, flat landing area, well past playing partner Mike Weir.
He doesn’t keep a score, but Weir said McDermott birdied both Nos. 9 and 10. Only Mackenzie Hughes and KH Lee did that Friday. On Thursday, Chris Kirk was the only one to pull off that double.
“His game is good; he’s got a good game,” Weir said. “Very powerful guy, hits it a long way. Coming from Pennsylvania, I don’t think he’s played a whole of golf (this year).”
“I thought he was incredible – super fun to watch him,” said fan Nick Greer, of Salt Lake, Utah. “The way he struck the ball was unreal. He was just confident out there. He had a little bit of a swagger out there, which was pretty cool.”
Greer was following the group ahead of Weir and McDermott, featuring Jordan Spieth, Tony Finau and Tommy Fleetwood, and said he saw most of McDermott’s shots.
While Knox was normally needed when there was an uneven number of players in the field after the 36-hole cut, a marker is can be called on when a player withdraws in the first round.
That’s what happened this year. McDermott ended up being the marker for Weir in the second round when playing partner Kevin Na withdrew after nine holes. Weir played the back nine on Thursday by himself.
“It was kind of strange; it was a strange week that way,” Weir said. “Mike (McDermott) was great. At least to have someone to play with and see the ball in the air and get in the pace of things and rhythm of things was nice.”
A marker is important because he keeps the Masters participant’s scorecard and provides company and pace for the round.
“What a great job to have, to play a round at Augusta and just mark somebody’s card,” said Stuart Fearnley, of Manchester, England, who was watching Weir and McDermott finish up on No. 18.
As a member, McDermott isn’t allowed to speak to the media after his round.
And after what happened in the third round of the 2014 Masters, the club encourages the marker to pick up at least one putt so he can’t have an official score. In 2014, Knox beat Mcllroy, shooting 70 to McIlroy’s 71. After that, Knox never had an official score.
On Friday, McDermott got that issue out of the way early. He hit the par-4 first hole in regulation two shots. He left his 25-foot birdie putt short. When he missed his par putt, he picked up the ball, ending any chance he would have an official score.
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