2020 Masters Choose Your Own Adventure, Rory McIlroy vs. Brooks Koepka: Digging Deep
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images. Pictured: Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy
“I’m not a golfer, I’m a f—ing athlete. Let’s go.”
He’s said it before — many times, in fact. Just a few days earlier, in his pre-tournament press conference, Koepka was asked about his love for the game.
“Despite what everyone thinks, I really do like golf — some days more than others,” he offered with a wry smile. “But I mean, baseball was my first love. I’d do anything to be playing the hot corner for some major-league team right now.”
It’s this kind of statement that sometimes turns rigid golf fans off from Koepka — and turns casual sports fans on to him at the same time. He sees himself as less golfer than athlete, which only means his statement to the doctor in the white lab coat was unconditionally on-brand.
There’s little doubt Koepka was going to continue. And while he probably wouldn’t admit it, if you got him on some truth serum, he’d likely insist that this was his chance for a Tiger moment, mirroring Woods’ playoff victory at the 2008 U.S. Open while playing on a torn ACL and fractured leg.
You watch as he limps down the second hole. He grimaces after his tee shot on the fifth. He braces himself to pick his ball out of the cup on the seventh.
It’s as if he’s consciously not outwardly showing any emotion toward his injury, but desperately wants everyone watching to understand how much it’s hurting him. This is a very Koepka-esque conundrum, from the same guy who made it known earlier this year how much his knee was hurting, then fired back at reporters when they asked in following weeks whether his knee was still hurting.
All the while, he’s hanging in there on the leaderboard.
As you walk through the gallery, you hear the shushed murmurs of those who aren’t necessarily buying into his plight. “I’m not buying it,” one guy says to his wife. “He’s just doing it for the attention.”
You can’t help yourself, butting into a conversation in which you weren’t invited.
“Why?” you ask the man. “Why would he fake an injury and limp around on what could be the biggest day of his entire career? How does that make any sense at all?”
Clearly taken aback, the man immediately surrenders, agreeing that his theory doesn’t hold much water.
As you apologize for jumping into their discussion in the first place, you watch Koepka, stone-faced but limping, and realize there are only two potential narratives for him today.