The Open 2021: Bob MacIntyre vows to keep playing 'roller coaster' golf as he makes it seven major cuts in a row
Like the Ronan Keating hit song, ‘Life Is A Rollercoaster’ for Bob MacIntyre. Well, a round of golf, to be precise, having used that description himself to sum up his second circuit in the 149th Open at Royal St George’s.
Thanks to a gutsy birdie from seven feet at the final hole, it was mission one accomplished for the 24-year-old left-hander as he stretched his run of making cuts in majors to seven in a row since he played in his first one almost exactly two years ago.
“This is me,” declared MacIntyre, the sole Scot in the 156-strong field, having once again shown his fighting qualities to sign for a gutsy one-under 69 in the second circuit to sit on one-over-par in the rescheduled Claret Jug event in Sandwich.
“Whether I’m playing golf or shinty, it’s a never-say-die attitude. It’s the only way I know how to survive, just to fight for it. If I lose that, then I lose my golf game. That is me, that’s my golf game; fighting.
“I’m like a roller coaster when I’m on a course, my heart rate is going up and down, you can see by my shots that I’m getting anxious or I’m going at things.
“It’s just about me getting to a point where I can enjoy it. I loved the end there where it has to be done, when you have no option but to take the shots on. Thankfully, it worked out today.”
He may be a long way from home on the Kent coast, but MacIntyre raised the biggest cheer in his group as he was announced on the first tee in the company of American duo Xander Schauffele and Rickie Fowler.
For the second day running, the left-hander from Oban ripped his opening drive down the middle of the fairway and followed that up on this occasion by sending an equally-impressive second shot to no more than a foot for a birdie.
He’d dropped shots at the second and fifth by the time he made his second gain of the day at the par-5 14th before setting up that crucial closing birdie with one of the best approaches of the day at the 18th.
“I knew exactly what was going on, I was watching every leaderboard coming in,” admitted MacIntyre, the world No 53, smiling. “I finally let go of everything that was going on and hit a putt on the last. I do it when I hit drives, irons, wedges. I don’t think of anything, I just swing the club and it produces good shots.
“I’ve been trying to do it with the putter. When everything is on the line, you can’t think about anything. That’s what I did. I just had a blank head, I just putted like a kid. It was a beautiful putt.”
MacIntyre is working with both David Burns and Graeme Leslie to try and improve his putting, technically and statistically. “It’s still a work in progress,” he reported. “I mean, it’s not like I have a problem with the putting. They’re just not going in the hole at the moment.
“They’re decent putts, but it’s just not me of a year-and-a-half ago, when I couldn’t miss. I just need to get that freedom back and just go with it. It is working. Yesterday I thought I putted poorly but the stats showed I’d gained shots on the field.
‘So it’s more a mental attitude than a putting problem. It’s in here (touching his head) that the problem is. It’s just about believing it and letting it happen.”
Replying to being asked if he had been proud of his latest battling display on one of the game’s biggest stages under pressure, he replied: “Absolutely delighted. I could have stolen a few more, because I hit some great shots.
“I hit a 4-iron into 15, a good wedge into 16 and then I was unlucky with the tee shot on 17. It wasn’t just in the rough, it was in a real deep divot, so I couldn’t really control it. I was just smashing at it. But I hit some great golf shots when I had to.”
MacIntyre tied for sixth behind Shane Lowry in the sport’s oldest major two years ago. It will probably take two low ones over the weekend if he’s to get close to matching that effort this time around, but he’s not in these events to make up the numbers.
“I demand a lot. But I like that. That’s what pushes me,” he declared. “My mum is the most laid-back person in the world. And my dad is laid-back as well – but he demands a lot. He doesn’t demand it of me but he sees it and he tells me straight.
‘That’s the same for everyone in my team, Stoddy (manager Iain Stoddart), Graeme, Davie. They ain’t gonna blow smoke up my tail! They’ll tell me it how it is and that’s how I like it.
‘If I ain’t working hard enough, they’ll tell me. If I’m working too hard, doing too much, they’ll tell me to pull it back a bit.
“Just straight up tell me how it is. And I’m the same. I tell myself what I need to work on. I know the things I have to work on for however long my golf career lasts. But we’ve got plans in place to do that. It’s just about giving it time and giving it everything I’ve got.”