Bob MacIntyre: Round with with Tommy Fleetwood has given me huge belief

Bob MacIntyre heads into the inaugural $3.5 million Saudi International feeling he belongs on the European Tour after holding his own in the company of world No 13 Tommy Fleetwood.

Bob MacIntyre is among eight Scots teeing up in this week's inaugural Saudi International. Picture: Getty Images

The 22-year-old left-hander from Oban was pleased how he performed in the same group as two-time Open champion Ernie Els in three rounds in South Africa at the end of last year.

But it was playing with Fleetwood, the 2017 Race to Dubai winner, in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship a fortnight ago that has left him feeling confident for the rest of his rookie season on the circuit.

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“It’s a bit different to last year but I’m here to compete just like them,” said MacIntyre of teeing up in a field in Saudi that is being spearheaded by four of the world’s top five. “It’s about doing what I can do and controlling what I can control.

“If I play well, I might not be able to compete with these guys just yet - but I’d certainly like to give it a shot.

“While I’d been in the same group as Ernie Els in South Africa and enjoyed that, playing in Abu Dhabi with Tommy made me realise the level I’m now playing at.

“He’s in the world’s top 15 and playing with him gave me belief, thinking to myself: ‘I’m 22 years old and I can hold my own out here’.”

This week’s event includes Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnston - the first time the top three players in the world have taken part in a regular European Tour event since 2012.

Also in the line up is Masters champion Patrick Reed, as well as Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson and man of the moment, Bryson DeChambeau.

“You can get scared of big names, but all the way through from boys golf to amateur golf and now on to professional golf, I’ve looked upon things being a stepping stone,” added MacIntyre.

“It’s no different this year. I’ve dreamed of playing against guys like Sergio, for example. Well, it’s here now and it’s time to make it happen.”

MacIntyre has made the cut in four of his five events so far and is aiming to keep up the good work as he joins seven others Scots this week.

“Even though I made the cut, I was struggling in Abu Dhabi,” he admitted. “I just wasn’t on my game and not getting into the Dubai event last week gave me time to practice and change a few things.

“It feels good out there now. I had to change my putting. I spoke to Davy Burns (his coach) and we’ve changed a few things up.

“It’s almost like an expirement really just now. It’s hard when you are in the heat of battle so you’ve got to be comfortable with it and it does.

“I’m going to use a normal grip all week - short and long putts. I’ve also changed to a face-balanced putter. I feel that can help me as my stroke is straight on. I’ve got to go out and believe I can hole putts.”