2020 Masters Choose Your Own Adventure, Rory McIlroy vs. Brooks Koepka: Even the Greats Show Nerves
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images. Pictured: Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy
You would have, but he had you second-guessing before he ever made the offer.
You’re not usually one to turn down a bet — especially from an old buddy — but he made such a valid point. After all, how many times have we seen it? One player leads going into the back-nine on Sunday afternoon, making it look like the title is a foregone conclusion, only to falter down the stretch.
It happens at regular PGA Tour events every week and it absolutely happens at the Masters.
Even a proven closer like Koepka isn’t immune to such failures.
You and your buddy are having this conversation as you’re leisurely walking down the right side of the 10th hole, barely paying attention the action. Next thing you know, as if to only make your point, Koepka misses a short par attempt and taps in for bogey. One hole later, same thing. Two putts, not much longer than 6 feet each, and neither touched the cup.
Could it be nerves? From Koepka? He never seems like the nervous type, but the enticement of a green jacket can do weird things to a man.
You continue walking the entire back-nine with your buddy, the golf just a pleasant backdrop for a conversation that ebbs and flows about golf and other subjects.
It’s not until the penultimate hole when your buddy jabs you in the ribs with a playful elbow and whispers, “Good thing I talked you out of that bet,” when you realize it would’ve been a losing proposition.
On the pantheon of final-round Masters meltdowns, this one won’t rate in the top-10; it won’t even be in the Others Receiving Votes small print. He missed a few make-able putts, sure, but this wasn’t a choke by any means. He simply went from having his best stuff to having, well, something less than that.
As you and your buddy part ways onto Washington Road, he offers up a confession.
“As soon as I proposed that bet, I knew I was in trouble,” he says. “I mean, it’s Brooks Koepka! He never flinches down the stretch at majors. That’s why I so quickly had to talk up my side of things, just so I wouldn’t lose a hundo in a bet that I shouldn’t have offered in the first place.”
You shrug and laugh, the juxtaposition of one spectator suggesting a wager he didn’t want to make and the other getting talked into not accepting it.
“Hey,” you reply, “that’s one bet I don’t mind pushing.”