Bob MacIntyre aiming to join Augusta National's list of lefty winners

Add Anna Davis, the newly-crowned Augusta National Women’s Amateur champion, to a list that already included Mike Weir, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson. Yip, there’s absolutely no denying that Augusta National seems suited to lefties and Bob MacIntyre is hoping he can join that club one day.

Sixteen-year-old Californian left-hander won the third edition of the Augusta National Women's Amateur on Saturday. Picture: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images.
Sixteen-year-old Californian left-hander won the third edition of the Augusta National Women's Amateur on Saturday. Picture: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images.

In his first Masters appearance 12 months ago, the Oban man birdied the final hole to finish joint-12th, booking his return ticket to the season’s opening men’s major in the process. He didn’t have a clue what to expect on that occasion, but that’s not the case this time around.

MacIntyre has been chomping at the bit to be back at the Georgia venue and seeing 16-year-old Davis top the leaderboard in the third edition of the women’s event, which concluded with a circuit at Augusta National on Saturday, was a timely reminder that many of the holes are set up perfectly for southpaws.

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“Yeah, I can’t wait,” said MacIntyre, who, for the second year running, is flying the Saltire along with Sandy Lyle, the 1998 winner. “Everyone says it, even speaking to Russell Knox (during last week’s Valero Texas Open), he’s saying ‘that place suits left handers’ and I’m going ‘yip, yip’. It wasn’t until I saw it last year that I realised what they meant by that.

Bob MacIntyre in action during his Masters debut last year at Augusta National Golf Club. Picture: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images.

“It’s the shot shape. The fade is easier and a lot more controlled. If a right-hander misses it, it goes into the water. If I pull it, it goes further and covers the water. If a right-hander pulls it, the ball goes over the green long into the flowers and he has no shot. If I miss it left, there’s a big area to catch it. If a right-hander pushes it, it’s in the water. That’s probably why left-handers have done so well at Augusta.”

Canadian Weir became the first left-hander to claim a Green Jacket as he beat Len Mattiace, who now works with Knox on his putting, in a play-off in 2003. Mickelson has landed the prize three times since then while Watson won twice in three years.

Mickelson, the ‘King of Lefties’ with five majors, is missing the event for the first time in 28 years as he continues his “break” from the game after controversial comments about the PGA Tour and Greg Norman’s Saudi-backed Super League. But MacIntyre joins Weir and Watson, as well as another American, Brian Harman, and also South African Garrick Higgo in the lefty legion in the event’s 86th edition, which begins on Thursday.

“Hopefully I can go there with the game in good shape and put a challenge up,” said the Scot. “Late Saturday into Sunday, just have some sort of chance. That’s all anyone can ask for.”

Phil Mickelson is congratulated by Tiger Woods after landing the second of his three title triumphs in The Masters in 2006. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.

A year ago, MacIntyre announced his arrival by driving up Magnolia Lane for the first time with a tune from The Gunna Sound Ceilidh Band blaring inside his courtesy car. Leaving on the Sunday night, Baccara’s Yes Sir, I Can Boogie was his tune of choice and there was even a singalong as he headed out through the famous gates on Washington Road.

“Not sure if it means I’m smarter or wiser, but I’m going back with more knowledge of the golf course,” he said. “More belief than ever before. When I first played it last year, I didn’t know what to expect or what was to come.

“But the way I played showed I can play the golf course, and I can compete. Playing any golf course or tournament, all you want to be is at the top end of the leaderboard.”

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MacIntyre, who was due to arrive in Augusta on Sunday night on a charter flight from San Antonio, where he signed off with a 69 in the Texas Open to finish on five-under, is planning a similar preparation as last year.

“My family will be there, so it’ll be nice and relaxed during the week and all systems go come Thursday,” he said. “Try to make it another golf tournament as much as I can, try not to overdo it. It’s some walk around that golf course. Trying to preserve energy for the week, and when it kicks off, give it everything you’ve got.”

He’s made the cut in seven major appearances so far, including two top-10 finishes in The Open. Is it realistic that he can do better than 12th on just his second visit here?

“Last year, I made lots of mistakes,” admitted MacIntyre. “In the last round, I double-bogeyed the sixth, attacking that back pin. There are shots I threw away. You can play defensively and plot your way round there and I knew that.

“But that’s not the way I play golf. I play to have fun and the only way to have fun is to attack. I know you can attack it, but you have to be cautious. If you’re too reckless, you’ll be home on Friday night. I want to compete, I feel I have the game to do that, but it’s about doing it smart and not doing anything daft which throws you out of the event early.”

Following in the footsteps of those other lefties would be a dream come true. “Large,” he replied to being asked about his jacket size before adding with one of his warm smiles: “I’ll squeeze anything on, it doesn’t really matter!”

If not him, who does he fancy to win? “I’m not worried about anyone else,” said MacIntyre, who is planning to play one of his practice rounds with 2018 winner Patrick Reed, as he did last year. “I’ll put one foot in front of the other, try not to hurt myself, try not to be ill. Whatever anyone else does is their problem. I’ll look after Robert MacIntyre as well as I can.”

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