AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Rory McIlroy's miserable run at the Masters continued on Saturday when he was beaten by a noncompeting amateur in the third round at Augusta National.
McIlroy was the last of the 51 players to make the cut and because there was an odd number, he was assigned a marker, Augusta local and club member Jeff Knox.
Although he was allowed to play, Knox's main job was to record his playing partner's score. His own score was not officially recognised but when the pair completed their rounds, he had shot a 70 to McIlroy's 71.
"Jeff is a great player, he beat me by one," McIlroy said. "I thought he was going to be nice and three-putt the last and we would have a halve, but he beat me by one.
"He obviously knows this place so well and gets it round. I don't think I've ever seen anyone putt the greens as well as he does around here."
McIlroy had never played with a marker at a major before let alone lost to one but laughed off the embarrassment of his defeat.
"It's fine," he said. "It would have been different, had it been someone that wasn't up to Jeff's calibre.
"He played just like he should be playing in the Masters."
McIlroy, who famously blew a four shot lead on the final day of the 2011 Masters, conceded that his chances of winning this year's Masters were over after he finished at three-over-par following his third round.
The Masters is the only major in which the Northern Irishman has not finished in the top-10 and although he thinks he will eventually win the green jacket, the 24-year-old said he may be waiting a while.
"My best finish here is 15th, which isn't really anything to shout about," he said.
"It would be nice to play well tomorrow, shoot something in the mid to high 60s and maybe finish the week in red figures.
"I think a good goal would be to have my best finish ever at Augusta and go from there. It wouldn't be the week that I would have wanted from the start, but the way the last two days have went it wouldn't be a bad way to finish the week."
(Editing by Gene Cherry)