For many it’s about chasing the PGA Tour dream. That’s the case for Robert MacIntyre, but he doesn’t see a life in the US. We caught up with the 2019 Rookie of the Year
Ask anyone who’s had any dealings with Robert MacIntyre and you’ll almost certainly be told he’s about as down to earth as you can get for one of the best golfers on the planet.
The left-hander had an impressive amateur CV before needing just one year to graduate to the European Tour, where he finished 11th in the Race to Dubai to win the Rookie of the Year and broke into the top 100 of the world rankings, in which he is comfortably the highest-ranked Scot.
We caught up with ‘Bob’ as the European Tour’s UK Swing came to an end…
First of all, last time we spoke to you you were still living at home and running about in your mum’s Chevrolet Spark. Is that still the case?
“No, we’ve had upgrades! I have been kindly sponsored by Arnold Clark, and they’ve given me a nice BMW X5.
“I’m still living at home with my parents. I’ve just turned 24 so I’m not in a huge rush to get anything myself, though I am trying to find somewhere to buy.”
You’ve had a few top 10s on the European Tour – including a couple where you’ve gone very close. What do you need to do to make that next step to get over the line?
“That’s a really good question. I think I just need a little bit of luck when I am in that position. I feel like when I have been in that position, a couple of things have gone against me. But I keep going, and I keep trying. I feel like my game is in a good place right now. Obviously, there are little things that I can always improve on.
There are a lot of European Tour events on UK soil this year. Does it add more pressure playing on home soil?
“No, not at all. There have been no fans, so the only pressure is what you put on yourself. For me, I don’t really worry about what the event is. Obviously, every week is a good opportunity. I know myself, and my team knows that when I perform at my best I am up there every week.
“It showed in Germany (the European Open where MacIntyre finished T2). When I was on my game, I was running away with the tournament, I was in a new position, then nerves crept in so I fell back. When my game is on, it’s just a matter of time until I get over the line.”
And ultimately a spot in the top 50 which opens up so many more opportunies…
“The top 50 has been a target for a while. I’m not sure if that’s possible without two wins. I’m out here trying to win tournaments. It’s the only reason I play golf, to win.
“It hasn’t happened yet, and it’s hard because there are guys who have been out there for decades and haven’t won.
“I am just going to continue playing my golf and keep doing things my way and I am sure it will happen at some point.”
You competed in the US for the first time for the WGC-Invitational and the PGA Championship. How was that?
“I feel like I found a lot in my game from my spell in the States. I was a little bit rusty, you could see that, but mentally I had been prepared to go for a while now.
“It was really good though. I was debating whether I was going to go or not, mainly because I had to quarantine. But I’ve spent long enough trapped in a house. Some folk wanted me to stay in the UK, play the UK events, and wait to see if the quarantine was lifted. In the end, I took the decision to go for it. At worst I was going to miss the cut, but I was going to learn.
“If you miss the fairway [at Harding Park] by two yards, you were punished more than if you missed it by 15 yards. I actually was driving it pretty good. I had a fair few shots that would bounce in the fairway and trickle into the thick stuff. I just had no shots and I had to pitch it out. At that point I was getting on top of myself, and it was more of a mental battle rather than my golf game struggling.
“Now I’m looking forward to getting going and competing against the guys who I know well and back in an environment I feel really comfortable in.”
Is a permanent move to the States and the PGA Tour in your future?
“I will never move permanently to the States. I am always going to live in the Oban area. But it’s where all the best players in the world play, and if you get the opportunity to go out there and play it’s a no brainer. You have always got to challenge yourself, and that is something that I have always done from a young age.
“My game suits the American style of golf. The high ball flight, drop-and-stop stuff. Obviously San Francisco wasn’t as much like that as I had hoped, but it was a great learning experience.”
What was the off-course experience like, in terms of Covid-19 measures?
“In Europe the bubble is a lot tighter because you are in official hotels and you can’t waive from that.
“In the US, you can stay in a house and do almost what you would usually do. Nothing really has changed. In San Francisco, when I finished my practice after my round, I would go back to the house and have some dinner. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my mum there to make the dinner for everyone that week so I had to cook, but that’s part of it right now.
“Gregg, my caddie, and my coach were staying with me. I cooked for the week and there wasn’t ever any food left on the plates, so I would say that is a successful week.”
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