Everyone knows Tiger Woods won the 2019 Masters but few will recall just how close now former No 1 Brooks Koepka came to forcing a playoff.
Koepka finished a shot short of Woods alongside Dustin Johnson and Xander Schauffele after missing birdie tries at both the 71st and 72nd holes at Augusta National.
While Francesco Molinari’s well-documented shortcoming at the par-three 12th hole is part of the story, Koepka was another among the final groups to have found the water. Molinari, Koepka and Tony Finau all made doubles at the short hole to see their aspirations weakened.
He bounced back with an eagle at 13 but missed his eagle attempt at 15, his title bid falling just short.
In lockdown, Koepka rewatched the final round with his dad, and the four-time Major champion opened up on that experience sharing that he hardly remembers anything from past battles.
‘It was funny. It was interesting to watch the replay,’ he said on a Q&A with coach Claude Harmon III.
‘I black out [when I’m playing]. I can’t remember shots. I go into a completely different world in my head. It’s so different, the way things are remembered. I don’t have a photographic memory. Did I miss on the low side, did I miss on the high side? Everything goes so quickly for me.’
‘I watch my tee shot on 12 go into the water,’ Koepka said.
‘I think what people don’t realise was that I was two back of Fran [Molinari], so I still had to make a move. You’re never aiming for that pin. I stepped in and I felt the wind and it was completely different than it was two seconds before that. I backed off and I remember thinking it needs to be flighted a little bit more. And I thought I did it. I hit a great shot. I wouldn’t take it back. In the air I was loving it. I was licking my chops. I’m going to make birdie here. Dude, this is going to be great. I know that they’re all watching. And it did not pitch on the green.
‘There were a few curse words walking down to the drop area. I dropped the ball, chipped it up to 6 feet or whatever it was and I really remember Ricky [Elliott, his caddie] saying to me, “You make this, we still have a chance.” Sure enough, I eagled the next hole.’
Koepka seemed to hint that his 15th-hole miss was more significant than the two that followed shortly after while he also light-heartedly mocked his caddie’s work on the greens.
‘I remember I convinced Ricky before I hit it was I was going to make the putt. There are times every once in a while where you don’t have to say anything to him. I won’t discuss the putt [with him]. He’s such a bad reader of greens anyway. The guy can’t read a putt. He can’t. And he’s a great putter, that’s the funny part.
‘But I remember saying to him, “I’m going to point at Tiger if I make this thing.” And I, still to this day, cannot believe that putt missed.’