Bob MacIntyre enjoyed sending Scotland a 'bit wild' over Masters debut
Bob MacIntyre has spoken of his delight about sparking excitement all over Scotland with his memorable Masters debut, admitting: “It had gone a bit more wild than I thought it would”.
They would have been out dancing in the streets of Oban on Sunday night in a non-Covid world after the 24-year-old local hero secured a return to Augusta National next April on the back of a top-12 finish.
Instead, they’ve had to use social media to express their pride in seeing MacIntyre mix it with some of the best players in the world in the year’s opening major and were joined in doing so by both golfers and non-golfers all over Scotland
“Yeah, I was seeing it on social media and stuff,” said the left-hander in reply to being asked if he was aware of the excitement that had been generated back home by his brilliant performance as a first-timer at the Georgia venue.
“People from back home in Oban who don’t follow me that much were watching golf and The Masters because I was there. It’s happening all over Scotland and gone a bit more wild than I thought it would.”
Despite the added attention, MacIntyre has vowed to keep his feet firmly on the ground, as was the case when he was crowned as 2019 European Tour Rookie of the Year then claimed his maiden win on the circuit in the Cyprus Showdown last November.
“I’m just playing a game that I love and I’m thankfully decent at and I’m just getting a chance to compete,” he said, speaking to the Scottish media in a video call from August before making the three-hour journey to Hilton Head in South Carolina ahead of this week’s RBC Heritage on the PGA Tour.
“That’s all I am doing. I am not changing anything because of what others think or feel. I’m literally just playing because I enjoy it and can make a living from it.”
MacIntyre broke into the world’s top 50 for the first time earlier in the year and jumped one spot to 44th on the back of his latest eye-catching effort, which came hot on the heels of topping a group that included world No 1 Dustin Johnson in the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play in Texas a fortnight ago,
However, the former Scottish Amateur champion insisted his goals and targets have not changed on the back of a second sparkling debut in majors, having already finished in a tie for sixth as a first-time in The Open at Royal Portrush in 2019
“You move at different paces at different times,” he said. “I’ve done everything that I’ve wanted to do so far. I wouldn’t say my rise has been quick. I’ve done it in stages and the way I’ve wanted to do it.
“Tick off the checklist and I feel I’m moving at the right pace and my golf is progressing at the right pace for me to slowly do it.
“Although I’m inside the top 50 in the world and feeling comfortable, it’s just gradually moving up. You don’t have to shoot into the Top 10. You can slowly do that. It’s not something that needs to be done tomorrow. It can take time and I’m fine with that.
“You want to be out here for 30-plus years. That’s what you are looking to do at the top end of the game. It’s not just about being delighted with 12th place. It’s about doing something in the game.
“I want to improve. I want to take the next step. I want to keep moving forward. I will keep working hard and keep working smart and trusting the people around me. I don’t know what is going to happen and nobody else does. We’ll just let it happen.”
MacIntyre, who made the most birdies - 21 - out of anyone in the field at Augusta, is now sitting eighth on the European points list and tenth on a world one in the battle to make the European team for the rescheduled Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in November.
Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm, Tyrrell Hatton, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Victor Perez, Paul Casey, Viktor Hovland and Matthew Fitzpatrick are the players currently occupying nine automatic berths, with MacIntyre next in line ahead of the the likes of Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Shane Lowry and Henrik Stenson.
“Again, I’m just playing my own golf,” said MacIntyre, adopting the same approach he did to trying to break into the world’s top 50 to secure that first trip to the Masters, to being asked about the Ryder Cup.
“I know I can play well out here. It was just a matter of letting it happen. I hadn’t played good golf in the States. I hadn’t turned up to a tournament thinking. ‘I’m hitting the ball well, I’m putting well’. Even the majors last year, things weren’t right.
“Whereas the last couple of weeks, I’ve started hitting it well. At the Matchplay, I started hitting it well and turned at Augusta with belief. It was the first time since coming to the States that I pitched up thinking I’m playing well.”
Harrington talked in January about the young Scot being on his “radar” for the match in Wisconsin, but MacIntyre reckons he needs to tie down one of those automatic berths rather than being left to sweat over his chances of being among three captain’s picks.
“Zero,” he replied to being asked to rate his chances of being in the team at the moment. “Because I’m not in the team yet. Until I am inside the automatic spot, I won’t expect to be in the team.
“A pick is a pick. It is who he thinks is the right fit for the team. He might go for experience or might go for a younger guy, I dunno. I’ll just play my golf and see where we end up.”