2020 Masters Choose Your Own Adventure, Rory McIlroy vs. Brooks Koepka: What Could Have Been
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images. Pictured: Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy
Koepka withdraws from the tournament.
There are very few circumstances of a player withdrawing from a professional tournament while in contention during the final round — and the easy reason is twofold: Any player who is injured enough to WD probably isn’t playing well enough to contend, and any player playing well enough to contend probably isn’t injured enough to WD.
All of which made it a shock when Koepka, one of the toughest guys in the game, made the decision that he could no longer continue.
You were right there when it happened, not more than 10 yards away after he hit his drive on the 14th tee. Even with a 3-wood, he didn’t come anywhere close to the fairway, hitting a dead pull-hook that maybe went 125 yards.
“That’s it,” you heard him say to his caddie. “I’m done.”
At that point, he was likely out of contention anyway, but still T-6 on the leaderboard and poised for another strong finish in a major.
If the pain was hurting him, then the decision hurt his playing partner just as much.
McIlroy, still with a chance to win at that point, played the final five holes by himself, making four bogeys followed by a lone par on the final hole.
He tried to execute a bit of gallows humor afterward, taking off his hat and shaking an imaginary hand on the final green, but his comedy routine couldn’t mask the disappointment.
You watched that scene unfold and couldn’t help but think: If Koepka had been able to continue playing, maybe it would’ve affected McIlroy differently down the stretch.