2020 Masters Choose Your Own Adventure, Rory McIlroy vs. Brooks Koepka: The Surge
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images. Pictured: Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy
Another nervy swing caroms off a limb and leads to double-bogey.
Is that it? Is it over? Another chance at making history just – poof! – vanishing into the Augusta air in the 14 minutes that it took McIlroy to play the opening hole?
It’s not that four strokes is such a difficult margin to make up over the final 17 holes, it’s just that there are soooo many other world-class players now sitting between Rory and the lead that it will be tough for him to pass all of them.
The eager, light-footed trot that you demonstrated down the outskirts of the first hole has already been replaced by a diminished trudge. You’re still happy to be here, of course, just not quite as happy as you would’ve been if you were about to witness history.
Of course, history comes in varying degrees and it wouldn’t be much less historic to watch Koepka triumph in what would be his fifth major championship in the last 16 that have been contested.
One year ago, Koepka was criticized for losing 20-25 pounds to pose in ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue prior to the Masters, only to finish in a share of second place and win the PGA Championship a month later. He admittedly didn’t have his best stuff over the first three months of this year, but he’ll just as quickly admit that none of those events matter to him nearly as much as any of the majors.
He’s proven that once again so far this week.
Koepka has parlayed an uninspired start to the season into a title contention. A birdie on the first hole moves him one stroke out of the lead. As your focus turns from Rory to Brooks on the par-5 second hole, you watch as he two-putts for another birdie. Then, thinking the streak was over, he chips in on the third hole for a third birdie in a row to start the round, taking sole possession of the lead before the final group has even finished the first hole.
The buzz growing now, you stand just left of the teebox on the par-3 fourth. As Koepka’s ball leaves the clubface, you momentarily forget where you are and begin screaming at the top of your lungs – a sound which is enveloped by everyone else in the gallery doing the exact same thing.