The Open 2021: Bob MacIntyre 'absolutely delighted' with another top-10 finish
Two Open appearances and two top-10 finishes. No wonder Bob MacIntyre said he’d eventually be “absolutely delighted” with his week’s work in the 149th edition at Royal St George’s.
The 24-year-old from Oban, who was the sole Scot in the 156-strong field on the Kent coast, did his country proud once again in the game’s oldest major.
Joint-sixth on his debut at Portrush in 2019, he finished in a tie for eighth on this occasion after brilliant weekend rounds of 65 and 67 to claim the honour as the leading British player on seven-under-par.
MacIntyre feels he can win this event one that. That’s why he was “disappointed” to send his tee shot out of bounds at the 14th and take an untimely bogey there after getting to eight-under to sit in a tie for fifth.
Once again, though, the left-hander showed the golfing world that he’s the real deal, having now finished in the top 15 in two majors this year after tying for 12th on his Masters debut in April.
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“It’s been a good week,” he declared, having birdied the last hole on Friday to make the cut on the mark following opening efforts of 72-69. “Obviously disappointed at the way I finished.
"We always talk about it, you have to be fully committed to the shot, if you’re fully committed, then if you hit a bad one it’s just a bad golf swing.
“But, at 14, I wasn’t committed to the shot and I got punished for it. But, if that was the bad one for the week, I would have taken it.”
What had been in his mind after picking up six birdies in the opening 13 holes to get within three of the lead at the same venue where Sandy Lyle got his hands on the Claret Jug in 1985?
“I was still there or thereabouts,” he said. “You never know what the leaders are going to do, I was just thinking, trying to go forward, keep going forward.
“When I hit the first tee shot (on 14) I was really annoyed but Mike [Thomson, his caddie] did a good job, managed to get over the burn in 4 so I could get back to somewhat normal, try to minimise the mistake.
“As much as it stalled the momentum, I gained momentum, I stopped myself from almost exploding. It would have been a disaster to make double bogey there. I hung in and got rewarded.”
To put MacIntyre’s Open achievements so far into perspective, he has now recorded the same number of top-10 finishes in the event that Colin Montgomerie managed in his entire career.
“I want to win one of these,” he said. “I don’t turn up to not compete, we’re all trying to win. I feel I’ve got the game to win an Open, I’m yet to show it, but I’m young and I’ve got plenty of time.
“There’s a lot I can learn, there’s a lot of golf courses I’m going to enjoy when I get to them again, and I just have to keep doing what I’m doing.”
After receiving a warm welcome on the first tee in the company of Andy Sullivan, MacIntyre split the fairway for the fourth day running with his opening blow.
That set up a birdie from eight feet and he was off and running in front of a posse of fans led by his mum Carol and dad Dougie and his sisters.
“Let’s go Bob” was the roar from one spectator as he arrived on the third tee, having dropped a shot at the second after finding some thick stuff off the tee then missing the green.
A second birdie, this time from 15 feet, at the fourth was followed by a bogey-4 at the sixth before he then moved into top gear with four birdies in seven holes around the turn.
When he gets that putter working, he’s a dangerous man and, though that hiccup at the 14th took a little bit of the shine off his day’s work, this was another effort that will surely have caught the eye of Europe’s Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington.
MacIntyre was still cutting his teeth in the paid ranks when he made his presence felt at Portrush. Using the confidence he gained from that as a springboard, he has blossomed into one of the most exciting young players in the world.
“Not all,” he replied to being asked if this performance felt different from his 2019 effort, “because I was having to fight for everything I had.
“Today was my worst performance tee to green, well it felt the worst. I wasn’t in control of what I was doing as much, but I was managing to miss in the right spots and I got some lucky breaks in the rough.
“You need that to keep the score going. My face doesn’t show it yet, but once this week’s over I’ll be absolutely delighted with the result.”
By finishing in the top 10, the 2019 European Tour Rookie of the Year has secured a spot in The 3M Open, next week’s PGA Tour event in Minnesota. If that bonus hadn’t come along, he’d have been heading to Celtic Manor in Wales for the Cazoo Open.
“Then I don’t know what I’ll do, whether I come home or go back out to Memphis (venue for the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational next month), or just stay out there. I need to speak to Stoddy [Iain Stoddart, his manager], he’s the man with the plan, I just roll with it.
“I've not got playing rights in the US yet so my base is Oban, it always will be. When the time’s right I’ll get a place out there, I’m not in a rush.”