Bob MacIntyre hungry to make his mark in US Open debut

Mum Carol is on cooking duties for young Scot’s team at Winged Foot
Bob MacIntyre is eager to climb back up the world rankings at the US Open havin g slipped to 89th during lockdown. Picture: Getty.Bob MacIntyre is eager to climb back up the world rankings at the US Open havin g slipped to 89th during lockdown. Picture: Getty.
Bob MacIntyre is eager to climb back up the world rankings at the US Open havin g slipped to 89th during lockdown. Picture: Getty.

Forget pecan pie or pancakes smothered in cream and syrup. Bob MacIntyre’s US Open week at Winged Foot is set to be fuelled by some Scottish pudding favourites thanks to his mum, Carol, having joined him in crossing the Atlantic for his second major of the season.

“She is going to do the cooking and keep everything in check,” said the 24-year-old, speaking before leaving the family home in Oban at the weekend to join fellow European Tour player Connor Syme and amateur Sandy Scott in flying the Saltire in this week’s USGA event.

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Does she have a menu prepared for MacIntyre, as well as his caddie Greg Milne and coach David Burns in their rented house close to the venue in Mamaroneck, north-east of New York? “Aye, she has,” he added, laughing. “And sticky toffee pudding and banoffee pie is on the menu. We have it all!”

Whether Carol gets to see her son make his debut in the event in the flesh remains to be seen. “I’m not sure what’s going on,” said MacIntyre of what her special waiver for getting into the US actually meant. “She understands she might not be able to get in, and she’s totally fine with that. She’s trying to keep everything so that when I finish my round I’m not panicking about how we’re getting dinner. I’m not the greatest at cooking, while Davie Burns can hardly work a microwave let alone cook.

“I did the cooking at the PGA Championship (that first major of 2020 at Harding Park in San Francisco last month). It was just basics. Fajitas, spag bol, while homemade chips is the speciality just now. That came from my sister, she taught me how to do that. But my mum is going to be there this week, so the food is going to be good.”

While food talk may have been on the menu, MacIntyre has lost weight since being crowned the European Tour Rookie of the Year last November and is hungry to do well at the venue where Colin Montgomerie, pictured, agonisingly lost out to Australian Geoff Ogilvie after missing the green at the 72nd hole with one of his trademark fades in the event’s last visit in 2006.

“I’d never seen the video of that until recently,” said MacIntyre of the last of three occasions his compatriot came close to claiming this title, having earlier lost to Ernie Els in a play-off at Oakmont in 1994 before being pipped by Els again three years later at Congressional. “We were talking about it at Valderrama (during the European Tour event there a fortnight ago), so I decided to watch it when I got home. I did and watched it all unfold.”

While still in the formative stages of his professional career compared to Montgomerie when he was challenging in the game’s biggest events, MacIntyre has looked at home in his two majors to date. He finished joint sixth behind Shane Lowry in last year’s Open at Portrush before making the cut in that PGA Championship, won by Collin Morikawa.

“For me, it’s not playing with what I would call superstars in practice rounds,” said the left-hander of what he feels has helped him hit the ground running, so to speak. “I did it at the Open – I put my name down and ended up being beside [Ian] Poulter and a few others.

“I arrived there, saw it, and pulled my name out into a different spot. Those are the sorts of things I can control, and when I put myself out of my comfort zone before I have to it’s not valuable for preparation.

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“I’m going to go there and play practice rounds with guys I know, that I enjoy playing golf with. It might be I play practice rounds by myself – who knows? I don’t go trying to learn something by playing with someone that I don’t actually know and can’t have the same banter with.”

Due partly to the PGA Tour having come out of lockdown well before the European Tour, MacIntyre has slipped from 64th in the world at the end of last year to 89th. A big week, though, and he could be back knocking at the door to break into the top 50 for the first time.

“I’ve been struggling lately with my game, but I’m starting to see some good signs,” he said. “I’m driving the ball better than I have in a long time. My iron play just needs a little tidy up. Chipping and putting need a little sharpening and then we’re away. If I play well, I feel I can compete with anyone in the world.

“My initial schedule wasn’t to play Valderrama. I was going to take two weeks off heading into the US Open. But I hadn’t been playing great and the scores showed that, so I decided to go to Valderrama, more for a mental test than a physical one.

“I was trying to get my head round the fact I was going to get crucified for a bad shot and it happened in Spain when I shot 80! But I bounced back. That showed my head is starting to get in the right place and the US Open is going to be the exact same. If you hit bad shots, you are going to get punished.”

One of the punishing things for MacIntyre in the Covid-19 world is not being able to sit in the same room as his papa, Dougie snr, in their hometown. “I have not seen my papa, who I used to go and sit and chat with all the time, for 20 weeks I would say,” he said.

“He’s in his mid-80s, he loves a good chit-chat, but I don’t want to go and risk what’s going on for us to see each other.

“I can wave to him out the window, but it’s about staying safe. He lives just down the road. Everyone else has been to see him and, though I’m getting tested every week for it, I just don’t feel like it’s the right thing for me to do.”

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And what about if he returned to Oban as the new US Open champion? “I’m sure he would be hanging out the window celebrating with a rum and coke or something like that,” he declared, chuckling.

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