Published by : Stuart McLean - 13 December 2023

Joe Knox is not a golf pro you will have heard of, but he made headlines at Waterkloof Golf Club in Pretoria when he became the first person in South Africa to have 10 consecutive birdies in a tournament round, beginning at the very first hole. There’s only been one other recorded instance of this happening anywhere. In August 2019, American Brandon Beck, 34, opened the first round of a Southern California Golf Association club tournament at Rustic Canyon GC with 10 straight birdies.

Knox, 27, who is out from England playing the Bushveld Tour in Gauteng, began his second round of the 54-hole Waterkloof tournament on December 5 by chipping in for birdie on the par-4 opener. He changed his golf ball because it was scuffed, and reeled off another nine of them with nine straight one-putt greens.

Joe Knox had eight putts in his opening nine of 27.

“I was miles left of the fairway with my first three drives of the day, but then played great golf from there on,” said the 27-year-old from Leeds in Yorkshire who has based himself at Dainfern. “However, I ended up only shooting a 7-under 65, which I guess is disappointing after my start. My putter went cold on me on the back nine. I didn’t make another birdie. I three-putted No 11 going for my 11th straight birdie.”

Knox has been playing the mini-tours in SA since 2022 with the aim of earning a Sunshine Tour card through the annual Q School in April. “It’s a great country for such an opportunity,” he said. “Playing the mini-tours here in Gauteng is affordable compared to the UK and Europe where the costs are unsustainable. There are numerous events within a short drive of each other, and you have wonderful courses and terrific weather.”

His playing partners at Waterkloof were Matthew Bright and Hanlo Jacobs, and when he made his fifth consecutive birdie he recalls them saying “slow down” to him. “The run should have ended after the fifth, because the par-3 sixth at Waterkloof is long and has a mad green. I hit an 8-iron to about 30 feet, and my putt had something like six feet of break. In it went.

“No 7 is an easy par 5, and it was a straightforward chip and putt for birdie. At the par-3 eighth it was just a sand wedge over the water to eight feet. No 9 was a tough uphill four into the wind, so par would have kept me happy, but again I holed from 18 feet.” That gave him 27 for the nine with eight putts.

Waterkloof Country Club in Pretoria was a scene of a new South African record.

It was at another Pretoria course, Woodhill, where the previous South African record of nine straight birdies was set by Sunshine Tour pro Alan McLean in the third round of the 2005 Telkom PGA Championship. His run began at No 7 and ended at No 15. He went on to shoot 62.

Nine in a row has been achieved three times on the DP World Tour, most recently on November 18 at Jumeirah in Dubai by Englishman Matt Wallace, who birdied every hole on the back nine of the Earth Course.

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