2020 Masters Choose Your Own Adventure, Rory McIlroy vs. Brooks Koepka: The Pressure Is On


Streeter Lecka/Getty Images. Pictured: Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy

Stick with McIlroy and Koepka.

It’s still the front-nine and while you’re not fully pot-committed on this twosome, you’d never be able to live with yourself if you followed ‘em for the boring stuff, then left before the roars came.

McIlroy has started with a yawn-inducing seven consecutive pars. Koepka has bounced around a little more, but is similarly even through seven holes.

You’ve observed that the entire scene has taken on a U.S. Open type of feel, contenders trying to grind out pars instead of making red numbers and eliciting those famed cheers echoing throughout the tall pines. It doesn’t make any sense. The weather is perfect. The course setup is what we’ve come to expect for a Sunday, with plenty of getable hole locations.

Just as you’re pondering why a potentially electric afternoon has been a dud so far, you catch McIlroy’s second shot into the par-5 eighth hole as it reaches its lofty apex in the blue sky, then floats onto the green, takes a few friendly bounces and stops 6 feet from the hole.

So much for that string of pars.

The biggest roars of the day so far are for the man called Rors, eclipsed just a few minutes later, when his eagle putt slides to the right edge of the hole, hangs on the lip for a split-second, then drops into the cup.

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“Sixty-eight!” cries the man with the Irish brogue, who suddenly materializes next to you without warning. “Back on track!”

Koepka counters with merely birdie, but the entire tone of the festivities has changed. Like a scoreless baseball game that finally sees a home run in the seventh inning, the place is buzzing.

One hole later, McIlroy drills a 22-foot birdie attempt and takes sole possession of the lead going to the turn.

You look around for the man with the brogue, just to point out that his guy is now ahead of pace, but can’t find him. Instead, as you make your way to the 10th hole, you hear about dozen people – from drunken frat boys to elderly ladies to even one Augusta National member in a green jacket – mention the word “cabins.”

It was nine years ago, but they all remember. They’re all thinking about it. But the real question is: Is Rory? He takes a mighty lash at his ball off the tee. You see it’s flight the entire time.

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