The look of disappointment on Bob MacIntyre’s face said it all after leaving an eagle putt agonisingly short at the 72nd hole in the Porsche European Open in Hamburg. It left him having to settle for second place for the third time in his European Tour rookie campaign and the 23-year-old is desperate to go one better.
This one stung more than either the Betfred British Masters or the Made in Denmark earlier in the season. Having led by four shots at the halfway stage at Green Eagle then sharing top spot heading into the final day, he had hoped to finish off the job on this occasion.
In the end, the left-hander from Oban was denied by Englishman Paul Casey. With a closing 66 for a 14-under-par 274 total, the Ryder Cup player won by a shot from MacIntyre (68), German Bernd Ritthammer (68) and Austrian Matthias Schwab (66).
“It’s been brilliant,” said MacIntyre, one of four Scots to graduate from the Challenge Tour last season, of his latest eye-cathing effort, having also finished joint sixth in the Open Championship at Royal Portrush on his major debut. “Obviously I’m disappointed in the end but, if someone had given me that score in the last round, I thought it would probably have been enough to win, but it just wasn’t to be.”
Once again handling the pressure of being in the mix on the last day like a seasoned professional, MacIntyre made five birdies, dropping his only shot of the round at the 12th.After back-to-back birdies at the 16th, Casey had surged to the top of the leaderboard and the young Scot came to the last needing an eagle to force a play-off. He gave himself a chance by safely finding the green in two only to be left kicking himself a bit as his putt from around 25 feet lacked the necessary pace. “I didn’t really know where I stood walking up 15th and, as I had seen Paul holing putts up ahead, I had to ask one of the camera crew where we stood,” added MacIntyre.
“It is a learning experience again. That is the third second place this year. We are getting closer and closer, but we just can’t seem to get over that line yet. I wouldn’t say playing in front of big crowds on the last day is normal for me, but you learn from every experience. It’s just disappointing not to win today.”
The effort is set to lift MacIntyre to 95th in the world rankings – the first time he has broken into the top 100 – while he is up from 15th to 13th in the Race to Dubai after picking up a cheque for around £135,000. He also now looks to have secured a spot in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth later this month, sitting first at the moment in the battle for two spots up for grabs for European Tour members in the top 50 of the Race to Dubai not already exempt at the culmination of the KLM Open.
It was Casey’s 14th European Tour triumph, but his first since landing the KLM Open in 2014. The 42-year-old plays mainly on the PGA Tour these days and this, in fact, was his first regular event of the season on the European circuit.
“I get emotional at every victory but this year has been so fantastic,” Casey, pictured, who defended the Valspar Championship in March on the US circuit, told europeantour.com, and he dedicated the trophy to former winner Gordon Brand Jnr following his death at the age of 60 last month.
“This is an incredibly prestigious trophy that has a lot of history to it on the European Tour so I’m over the moon. I’m happy to be the Porsche European Open champion.”
Casey started the day one shot behind MacIntyre and Ritthammer at eight under and recorded his best front nine of the week of 31 to move in contention, with MacIntyre still maintaining the one-shot advantage at the turn.
The Scot’s only blemish at the 12th left the door open for Casey, who replied with a birdie at the 13th, to get his nose in front before moving back ahead at the 16th, where he holed a curling 35-foot birdie putt, following a four-way tie for the lead.
That proved the turning point and, after adding another birdie at the 17th, he was able to come out on top despite having to settle for a par at the last following a three-putt.