Bob MacIntyre has top-10 finish in his sights on Masters debut
Bob MacIntyre set up a chance to become the first Scot in more than 20 years to secure a top-10 finish in The Masters after continuing to take an Augusta National debut in his stride.
Not since Colin Montgomerie tied for eighth in 1998 has the Saltire been so prominent reaching the business end of the event thanks to a six-birdie salvo from MacIntyre in the third round.
Displaying a magical touch at times around the treacherous greens at the Georgia venue, the 24-year-old from Oban mixed gains at the second, third, sixth and eighth with bogeys at the first and seventh going out.
He ran up a disappointing bogey-6 at the 13th but repaired that damage by holing from around 15 feet for a birdie at the 14th before repeating the feat at the 17th hole, where his approach from 148 yards was all over the flag.
“Yeah, happy enough,” said MacIntyre, speaking to Sky Sports Golf, of his day’s work, having signed for a two-under 70 for the second day running to sit in tie for tenth on two-under, nine shots behind Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama after he produced a sensational late burst. “I made a crazy mistake on the par 5 13 but, other than that, I played solid stuff.”
He later added: “I was throwing birdie, bogey, birdie, bogey, but that's the way I play golf. It's been obvious the last kind of two years the way I play golf, it's aggressive.
“No matter where I play or who I'm playing with, I'm going after things. The way my scorecard goes, it's a roller coaster, and it's the way I play golf so we enjoy golf. Overall, delighted with how it went.”
MacIntyre had set out with a ringing endorsement from Mike Weir, the 2000 winner and fellow lefty, after they had played together in the opening two rounds.
“Oh, he's got a great game,” said the Canadian, adding his voice to a chorus of praise for MacIntyre over the last seven weeks in the US.
“Very nice game,” he added. “He fades the ball well, which for a lefty you need to do around here, and he putts really well. You know, yeah, he can do well here on the weekend.”
The young Scot didn’t let him down as he produced some terrific stuff in his bid to match his top-10 finish on his debut in The Open at Royal Portrush in 2019.
“It was tough early on, the wind started getting up and it was gusting,” said MacIntyre, who also made the cut on his debut in both the US PGA Championship and US Open last year.
“I was standing on the 14th tee and there was stuff falling from the trees on me. It kept switching slight angles, which made it harder.
“Once the storm came through, it calmed down but then the wind picked up when I was playing 18.”
His bogey at the seventh was a three-putt from less than 30 feet after seeing his first one go around 25 feet past down the slope.
“That's just the way the golf course is,” he admitted. “I wasn't happy when I done it, but when you walk away from it and you just laugh, the greens got me on that one.
MacIntyre, the 2019 European Tour Rookie of the Year, will secure his return to Augusta National for next year’s event with a top-12 finish on Sunday. But his sights are set higher than that.
“That's what I'm here for. I'm not here just to make up the numbers. I'm here because I got here on merit, and I'm here to win a golf tournament. If I wasn't trying to win this golf tournament, I'd be sitting at home with my feet up watching it.
“I've prepared for the last two years or the last year, my goal was top 50 in order to get in this golf tournament because I love watching it so much. I'm here now, and I'm trying to win it.”
Asked what his gameplan will be in the final round, he replied: “Play the same golf. You don't know what's going to happen.
“If I can cut out the bogeys, I'm having plenty of birdies. Who knows, if I can go and shoot five, six under par, we'll set back and watch it all unfold. Who knows, maybe I'll have a chance.”
Left-handers, of course, have enjoyed a fair bit of success in this event over the past 20 or so years and MacIntyre admitted the course suits his game perfectly.
“I prefer a place where the scores don't go daft, where you have to strike it and it doesn't become a putting competition. This is right up my street,” he said.
“You've got to shape the shots, you've got to think. If you're out of position, you've got to think even more. I love the golf course, and my game's in decent shape for it.”