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McIlroy and Koepka

Rory and Brooks are in (different) leagues of their own

One is the boss of the majors and the other has dominated the PGA Tour and scooped the FedEx Cup jackpot. Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka are the best two players in the world right now and it isn't even close
 

It’s been the year of McIlroy and Koepka. You can’t keep a good man down and Rory McIlroy has duly moved on from his Open embarrassment by winning the FedEx Cup Play-offs for a second time.

That makes him the champion of the PGA Tour and having won both the Tour Championship and the Players Championship in 2019 it is hard to argue that anyone else was more deserving.

He ends the season as the World No. 2, with only Brooks Koepka above him. The rankings show that the two men have earned almost an identical number of points this year and twice as many as just about any of their rivals, bar Dustin Johnson.

Rory and Brooks

What is curious is that they have rarely excelled in the same weeks. Koepka’s major finishes read: T2, Win, 2nd, T4. He also won the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational. His other WGC results were T16, T27 and T56.

His regular event finishes on the PGA Tour read: Win, 24th, T2, MC, T56, T22, 4th, T50, T57, 65th, T30, T24, T3. That’s a win, three top 10s and nine failures to make the top 20.

McIlroy and Koepka

As for McIlroy, in the majors he posted: T21, T8, T9, MC. The nearest he came to being a factor in any meaningful sense all season was at Pebble Beach but a double-bogey on the second hole of his final round effectively removed him from the running.

McIlroy’s WGC results read T54, T2, T9, T4, while his results on the PGA Tour read: T4, T5, T4, T6, Win, T8, MC, Win, T4, T6, T19, Win. In other words, apart from a sole missed cut he never finished outside the top 20 and only twice failed to make the top 10 all season. These are truly exceptional statistics, and far beyond those of a merely streaky player.

At regular PGA Tour events, playing against the best players in the world week in and week out, McIlroy has categorically been the best.

At the majors, the answer is different but equally emphatic: Koepka.

With Johnson fading as the year went on, Jordan Spieth winless since his Open at Birkdale more than two years ago and Justin Thomas troubled by injury for much of the season, there is clear daylight between McIlroy and Koepka and the rest. Just as distinct is the way the two of them go about their business.

One is warm, emotionally intelligent, loose of limb and seemingly unable to bring his best game to the events that matter most. It’s five years since he won the PGA, the most recent of his four majors.

The other is more distant, slightly menacing, frighteningly strong and relentless whenever a major comes around. He also has four major wins.

Curiously, neither has won a Green Jacket – yet. Come next April, it’s unthinkable that McIlroy and Koepka won’t be the two most fancied players in the field.

Can anyone get close to these two in 2020? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, or join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Dan Murphy

Dan Murphy

Dan loves links golf, which doesn't mean he is very good at it. He is a four-handicapper at Alwoodley. A qualified journalist and senior editor with 25 years’ experience, he was the long-time editor of NCG. His passion is golf courses and he is the founding editor of NCG Top 100s course rankings. He loves nothing more than discovering and highlighting courses that are worthy of greater recognition.

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