2020 Masters Choose Your Own Adventure, Rory McIlroy vs. Brooks Koepka: Falling Apart
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images. Pictured: Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy
Fails to get up and down from the greenside bunker and makes bogey.
Brooks is broken. Maybe not irretrievably, maybe not even for the rest of the summer, but something is clearly wrong with him right now.
Entering this week, he hadn’t posted a finish inside the top-15 since last August. At times, he’s intimidated that his left knee, which required surgery in the offseason, still isn’t 100% healthy and might never be again.
You carefully watch him emerge from that greenside bunker on the first hole, lasering in on his steps and his gait. This is a practice we’ve previously limited to just Woods, who could leave the masses murmuring about his back or knee with just the slightest limp.
It’s fairly amazing that Koepka — much as he did at last year’s Masters after so much weight loss — is contending this week, based on his recent form and whatever degree of pain is emanating from that knee injury, though in true Tiger fashion, he won’t admit it.
As he cleans up for bogey on the opening hole, you’re fairly certain that you can see him wince and know he’s in some kind of discomfort. By the second tee, you’re sure of it.
That’s where Koepka is met by a three-person training staff, each of whom is poking and prodding at the partially torn patella tendon that was never quite repaired.
Again, you get close enough to hear their conversation, one of the benefits of traversing Augusta National alone and not having to traverse the course with a host of others.
There’s a man in a white lab coat tending to Koepka, which feels like it would be overkill anywhere except here, where the caddies are still clad in jumpsuits. You hear him ask the four-time major champion whether he thinks he can continue playing. He winces again, then answers.
- “I’m not a golfer, I’m a f—ing athlete. Let’s go.“
- “This hurts more than that time I tried to deadlift 450, but I’ll see what I can do.“