2020 Masters Choose Your Own Adventure, Rory McIlroy vs. Brooks Koepka: The Beauty of Augusta
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images. Pictured: Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy
Other contenders start making birdies, too, and the roars echo through the course.
Back in 2002, course designer Tom Fazio was summoned by Augusta National to lengthen nine holes, adding a total of 285 yards to the course altogether. They called it “Tiger-proofing” at the time, which never really made sense, considering any lengthening of the course would theoretically just benefit the game’s longest hitter at the time.
What it really did was “birdie-proof” the course.
Over the next seven years, the event would be won with a score either single-digits under-par or over-par on five of those occasions. (Ironically, the only two won with a score of double-digits under-par were claimed by Tiger Woods.)
Essentially, the Masters lost its identity during some of those years, the tournament turning into a game of get-into-contention-and-grind-it-out as opposed to contenders going low in hopes of getting their arms into a green jacket.
We can debate whether technology caught up to the course or players simply adjusted to these changes, but it’s impossible to argue about the perks of the roars being restored for this tournament over the past decade.
And on this particular day, they were emanating from everywhere.
Still transfixed by the McIlroy-Koepka pairing, you’ve decided to stick with them so far, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t just as intrigued by the other half-dozen contenders in the groups behind. Every time a fellow spectator walks past, you lock eyes with them, as if to silently say: Tell me what you know.
And they do. Each of them. Phil is back, man, he just rolled in a 40-footer! Did ya hear Tiger nearly holed out from the fairway on 7? Reed is a stone-cold assassin, he just made birdie and shushed his own caddie!
Meanwhile, you keep watching the board, as those handheld scoreboard operators are working furiously to maintain pace with all the red numbers being posted.
Suddenly, it dawns on you: One way or another, this thing is going to be won on the 18th hole. Either somebody is going to make a putt on the final hole of regulation or it’s going to a playoff, but the 18th is the place to be.
Of course, with the final four groups still more than an hour from reaching the closing hole, you have a decision to make.