Bernard Gallacher tips Bob MacIntyre for Ryder Cup debut at Whistling Straits
Bernard Gallacher, a three-time Ryder Cup captain, believes Bob MacIntyre will be in Padraig Harrington’s European team for the rescheduled September showdown at Whistling Straits after his recent eye-catching exploits on American soil.
Harrington talked in January about MacIntyre being on his “radar” for the clash against Steve Stricker’s side in Wisconsin, having been impressed by the young Scot’s statistics and also the way he goes about his business on a golf course.
If there had been a slight concern for the Irishman, it would probably have been MacIntyre’s lack of experience playing on the other side of the Atlantic, but his Ryder Cup credentials have rocketed on the back of the 24-year-old Oban man producing some sensational stuff stateside over the past few weeks.
He’s already made a name for himself in the US by topping a group that included world No 1 Dustin Johnson in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Texas before backing that up by finishing joint-12th behind Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama on Sunday on his Masters debut.
“If I was the captain, I’d be looking seriously at somebody like him,” said Gallacher, who made it third-time lucky in his stint as Ryder Cup skipper with a victory at Oak Hill in 1995. “You always want a good putter on your team and he is certainly that. He also keeps the ball in play and is calm as well.
“He’s got a good temperament, which it is all about. Golf really is not about how good you hit it; it’s about how good you handle it. It’s all about temperament and it looks as though he has a very good calm temperament and that’s what you certainly need in the majors. He also looks like he is enjoying himself in these big events.
“Those are the kind of things you want and you also want someone who plays well in the majors because the Ryder Cup is basically a major as well. The captain wants players who perform on big occasions and I am sure Padraig will be looking very closely at somebody like him.
“There’s no reason why he can’t make this team and it would be great for him and Scotland as well if he does.”
MacIntyre, the 2019 European Tour Rookie of the Year before landing his breakthrough win on the circuit in the Cyprus Showdown in November, has really risen to the challenge on the game’s biggest stages over the past couple of years.
He tied for sixth on his Open Championship debut at Royal Portrush in 2019 before making the cut as a first-timer in both the US PGA Championship and US Open last year at Harding Park and Winged Foot respectively. In another sparking debut, he followed an opening 74 with a pair of 70s to sit handily-placed after 54 holes in the 85th Masters.
“It tells you that he has both a good technique and temperament,” added Gallacer of those efforts. “He can handle it in these big events. There are times when you are nervous in tournaments and, when that is the case, your technique can be exposed, especially if you have a weak technique.
“But his certainly isn’t and the people close to him and fellow players, from what I read anyway, say his swing flows nicely and has a nice technique. From afar watching on television, you can see he has a very pleasant swing and I think more than anything he is not getting carried away.
“That’s the important thing when you are playing in a major. He’s learning and he’s calm. Golf is more a cerebral game; it’s what you’ve got between your ears in majors more than anything.”
While Scottish people are not exactly renowned for having a positive attitude at times, that certainly doesn’t apply to MacIntyre. He’s not cocky by any means. Far from it, in fact. But, even in the majors and WGCs, he is already teeing up in them believing he can compete against the best in the world and beat them.
“Well, that’s the attitude you need to get to the top,” said Gallacher, a 10-time winner on the European Tour and four-time Scottish Professional champion. “He doesn’t seem to be intimidated by other players, which is very good.
“I think he probably has the attitude that he doesn’t feel too young to do well. He just feels he wants to do the best he can and I think that’s the best attitude you can have, to be honest.
“It gets tougher as the week goes on at Augusta because the course gets more difficult and pressure can eventually get to you. But, if he can handle that, then we can really look forward to having somebody who can be a threat in majors going forward.
“The thing about playing in majors is the more you play in them, the more you get used to them.You learn how to cope with playing in majors and that’s what he is learning at the moment.
“He’s played well in The Open, the US PGA and the US Open and now he’s played well in his first Masters. You get accustomed to playing in majors. When I played, the only major I got to play in was really the Open Championship.
“But he’s also playing in the ones in the US. It’s all a learning experience for him and the trick is to keep qualifying to play in majors, keep learning and eventually you will come good.”