Bob MacIntyre not American-ised like Martin Laird or Gemma Dryburgh

Scot facing big challenge adapting to his new working environment as PGA Tour card holder
Martin Laird pictured during the recent 50th anniversray of The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Picture: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images.Martin Laird pictured during the recent 50th anniversray of The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Picture: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images.
Martin Laird pictured during the recent 50th anniversray of The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Picture: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images.

I honestly can’t remember when I’d last come face-to-face with Martin Laird before our paths crossed again at the 50th anniversary of The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Florida and it was really good to be reconnected with him.

The opportunity provided me with a chance to watch him in action at different times during the week and it was nice to be reminded that he’s a bloody good player, as you can clearly see when you start digging into some of his facts and figures on the US circuit.

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In case anyone had forgotten, Laird is a four-time PGA Tour winner, having made his breakthrough in the 2009 Shriners Hospitals Children Open and, after adding the 2011 Arnold Palmer Invitational and 2013 Valero Texas Open in between, landing that title again four years ago.

Add in seven runner-up finishes, the most recent of which came last year in the 3M Open, and a total of 45 top tens, having made the cut in 246 of his 386 starts, and the 41-year-old’s career earnings currently stand at $22.3 million.

Yes, that might sound paltry in comparison to the whopping $476 million handed to Jon Rahm purely to join LIV Golf, but, in a normal golfing world, Laird has certainly done well for himself and, based on a recent rejuvenation, he’s not finished yet in terms of having the capacity to get himself in contention on the strongest circuit in the game.

On the back of top-ten finishes in his previous two outings, the Milngavie man deserved to end up higher than a tie for 54th in the PGA Tour’s flagship event in Ponte Vedra Beach. His putting in particular was sensational for most of the week and no wonder he felt sore after a 7-5 finish as that cost him both money and valuable FedEx Cup points.

Laird no longer has Russell Knox, his long-time friend, for company on a week-to-week basis after the Invernesian lost his card at the end of last season and, as a consequence, found himself having to play in a Monday qualifier for last week’s Valspar Championship in Florida.

Instead, it’s Bob MacIntyre who is flying the Saltire along with the Denver-based player this season and, as the Oban continues to try and adapt to his new working environment, it’s worth using Laird as an example in terms of how difficult that actually is for his compatriot as some people perhaps have unrealistic expectations when it comes to him when adopting a short-term view.

Yes, Laird is a proud Scot and always will be but, with all due respect, he’s become American-ised, which, in fairness, is hardly surprising bearing in mind he’s now lived over there for 25 years, having stayed on to pursue his dream to become a PGA Tour player after a spell at Colorado State University. His wife, Meagan, is an American and their two kids, Jack and Hannah, were both born there, though Laird is quick to point out that they are “dual citizens and happily say that, too”.

Having turned pro in 2004 and played on the US circuit since 2008, Laird is an old hand when it comes to both the tournaments and venues and please don’t be fooled into underestimating the importance of that because, apart from the odd course here and there, MacIntyre is playing at new venues for him most weeks at the moment.

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It was the same with Gemma Dryburgh when she found it tough a few years back in her rookie season on the LPGA Tour, but look at her now, having recovered from a poor opening round to record her latest top-ten finish in California on Sunday.

Partly from her spell at Tulane University in New Orleans, I’d say Dryburgh has also become a bit American-ised, but, even though he had a spell at McNeese State University in Louisiana, that certainly isn’t the case with MacIntyre and, quite frankly, it never will because his heart will always be back in Oban.

Which is the biggest battle the Ryder Cup player is facing right now during his first season as a PGA Tour card holder, having been among the ten golfers who earned that status through the DP World Tour’s Race to Dubai last season. Yes, he’s desperate to do well out there. Yes, he’s bursting a gut in his bid get into the top 50 in the world in time to secure a spot in The Masters next month. Yes, he’s determined to use his spell out there to become a better player.

But, at the same time, he’s longing to see his family and friends back home and also to be turning out for his beloved Oban Celtic because, unlike Laird, MacIntyre is not even close to feeling settled in the States and it’s going to take time for that to happen, which is why he deserves to be cut some slack in the early stages of this new chapter in his career.

The 27-year-old has now made five cuts in nine starts on the US circuit this season and bouncing back from a disappointing early exit in The Players Championship to produce a solid effort in the aforementioned Valspar Championship will have boosted his confidence going into this week’s Texas Children’s Houston Open and then the Valero Texas Open.

I think it’s fair to say that Laird achieved his success in the States without feeling huge pressure on his shoulders, though, at the same time, he deserves huge credit for everything he has accomplished as a PGA Tour player, the same, it has to be said, applying to two-time winner Knox.

In contrast, there’s definitely the weight of a nation on MacIntyre’s shoulders and he deserves some time to fully adapt to a new challenge because it’s just different in so many ways over in the States and not everyone can take that in their stride.



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