'Teuchter' talk over as Bob MacIntyre aims to get in Masters mix
He may be the “teuchter” in town but don’t be fooled into thinking that means Bob MacIntyre feels out of place among Green Jackets and the equally colourful azaleas and dogwood in full bloom.
The young Scot announced his arrival for the 85th Masters earlier in the week by driving up Magnolia Lane for the first time with a tune from The Gunna Sound Ceilidh Band blaring inside his courtesy car.
“Teuchters have arrived” was how he described that scene in a video clip on social media that has certainly raised the profile of a band led by Campbell Brown and Johnny Scoular, but it’s been serious stuff for MacIntyre since showing his genuine sense of humour.
Not since Fuzzy Zoeller achieved the feat in 1979 has anyone won The Masters on their debut, illustrating the scale of the task the 24-year-old left-hander from Oban is facing as he joins Sandy Lyle and Martin Laird in flying the Saltire in his first appearance at the Georgia venue.
Yet, that’s exactly what he is trying to do, having picked the brains of a former winner, Patrick Reed, in one of his practice rounds earlier in the week as part of trying to make the most of the time available to him before an 11.42pm tee off on Thursday to learn everything he can about Augusta National’s numerous humps, bumps and lumps.
“It’s my first time here, so you’re obviously not really expecting too much,” he said of his expectations, having tied for sixth on his Open Championship debut in 2019 at Royal Portrush before making the cut as a first-timer in both the US PGA Championship and US Open last year.
“But I’m here to compete and to give myself a chance to win on a Sunday. If I play the way I know I can play, then I don’t see why not. If I wasn’t here to try and win a golf tournament, then I’d just be sitting at home in Oban.
“Every single player in this field wants to try and win the golf tournament. There can only be one winner, so there are going to be 87 other guys who are disappointed. But it’s not really disappointment because you’re still learning. For me, I’ve got to be learning a lot. I’m just going to try and enjoy it as much as I can and soak it all up.”
MacIntyre, who intends wearing a black ribbon during the event in honour of Jock MacVicar, the legendary Scottish golf writer and fellow Argyll and Bute man, has been paired with fellow lefty and former winner Mike Weir for the opening two rounds.
It would have been a bigger dream come true if that had been three-time winner Phil Mickelson, but, while the pair were on the putting green at the same time earlier in the week, MacIntyre is well past the point of being starstruck.
“No, not at all,” he replied to being asked if he’d taken the opportunity to at least have a word with Mickelson. “I’m there to try and beat him. I’m not there just to get a picture with him or try and get information out of him. I’ve never spoken to the guy in my life. I’ll leave him to it and get on with my job.”
Fittingly, the 2019 European Tour Rookie of the Year is being watched at his workplace this week by his mum and dad, Carol and Dougie, who, with his Glencruitten greenkeeper’s hat on, will be equally excited, no doubt, to set foot on one of the most manicured courses in the world.
“This is a golf tournament and a golf course I’ve always wanted to play and I am taking everything in, day in, day out,” said MacIntyre of achieving what he described as “a little boy’s dream” but, at the same time, insisted it hasn’t been a case of him feeling the need to constantly be pinching himself.
“At the end of the day, I have worked hard to get here,” said the Cyprus Showdown champion. “It’s not as though I’ve just woken up and got lucky. It’s part of the job. I’m lucky to be here and it’s special, but I work my ass off every time I am practising. It’s not by luck, it’s by hard work.”
As has been the case this week. While appreciative of some “little secrets” he picked up from playing nine holes on Monday with Reed, MacIntyre and his caddie, Mikey Thomson, have been closely studying the slopes on greens to try and save as many shots as possible as opposed to throwing them through sheer inexperience.
“The greens are brick hard,” reported MacIntyre of a test set to be completely different to when Dustin Johnson won with a record low aggregate on a rain-softened course in November.
“I’m doing a lot of work around the greens trying to visualise and see the slopes so that I know where they are from the fairway as there are a lot of run offs.
“There are times when you don’t actually have to play to the fat part of the green as the miss is actually better short-sided as you can chip back on to a slope and it brings it back to the hole.
“I am trying to learn as fast as I can because if you don’t you have no chance. You can be hitting down a serious slope that has a wooden floor if you get out of position from the tee and it’s not going to stop. But that’s part of the challenge. That’s part of why we were here early to prepare as well as we can do and now I can’t wait to get going.”