Bob MacIntyre on US Open: My next step is to challenge in a major

So far, so good. Five majors played and five cuts made. But Bob MacIntyre isn’t just interested in being around for the weekend in the game’s biggest events.

Amateur Sandy Scott watches Bob MacIntyre during a practice round prior to the 120th US Open at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York, last September. Picture: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images.
Amateur Sandy Scott watches Bob MacIntyre during a practice round prior to the 120th US Open at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York, last September. Picture: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images.

“It’s been good to have made all the cuts, but I feel I’ve not challenged in one yet,” said the 24-year-old from Oban, who is hoping to rectify that in next week’s 121st US Open at Torrey Pines in California.

MacIntyre acknowledges that tying for sixth on his major debut in the 2019 Open at Royal Portrush and then sharing 12th spot as a first-timer in the Masters this year were both “good finishes”.

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But, heading into his latest major assignment, he insisted: “I feel I have still not taken that step to challenge in one, but it’s only five majors, so we have got to take it slow.”

That’s not easy when you are in a hurry, as MacIntyre understandably is to start making his presence felt at the highest level after landing his maiden win on the European Tour in November then breaking into the world’s top 50 for the first time earlier this year.

“I try to do the same stuff week to week whether it is a major or a regular tournament. They all mean the same,” replied the left-hander to being asked if he was getting used to teeing up in majors. “Obviously there is more expectation when I’m playing regular European Tour events, but the expectation is only what I put on myself.

“I don’t worry about what people say or think I should be doing. I only get out the game what I put in. I won’t get out of the game what anyone else says or does. I feel if I put in the work, we can keep doing what we’re doing at majors.

“I’m becoming one of the favourites week-to-week in regular events, which shows I’m performing week to week, but I have to try to lower my own expectations and just let the golf happen again. Try to shoot as low as you can and see where you end up.”

Flying the Saltire along with Connor Syme and amateur Sandy Scott, MacIntyre dug deep to make the cut in last year’s US Open at Winged Foot, where Bryson DeChambeau was the only player to break par.

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“Yeah, it was brutal,” said MacIntyre of that test set by the USGA. “It seems to get tougher every time you watch it. But it’s good because, if you play good golf, you get rewarded.

“Driving the ball is so tough. You’ve got to keep it on the short stuff, which is always difficult no matter what course you play. And you just have to accept that you’re not going to hit every fairway. Every good shot is not going to get rewarded. You need to be ready for that.

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“I know it’s going to be another brutal test. I think I know what to expect from a US Open now, so I just have to be in the right mental state – and basically just enjoy it. That’s why we play the game.”

Tiger Woods pulled off one of the greatest victories in sport as he overcame playing on virtually one leg to land the title on the event’s last visit to Torrey Pines in 2009.

Woods is an absentee on this occasion as he continues to recover from his serious leg injuries sustained in a car crash in February, but Phil Mickelson, fresh from becoming the game’s oldest major winner at 50 in last month’s US PGA Championship, bids to complete the career grand slam on the doorstep of his home city of San Diego.

“I’m fully comfortable,” insisted MacIntyre of mixing it with the likes of Mickelson, DeChambeau, world No 1 Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and all the other big guns. “I don’t feel there’s any difference wherever I play, throughout the world.

“It’s just about me going and playing golf. I don’t really care about who I’m playing against, what the other guys are doing – I’m there to play, to play the best I can. I’ve prepared at home and it’s just about letting things happen when I get there.”

Martin Laird is the only other Scot in the Torrey Pines field, having passed a final qualifying test in Columbus, Ohio, early this week to secure his return to the event for the first time since 2017.

DeChamebeau, who won by six shots at Winged Foot in September, is bidding to become just the second player after Brooks Koepka (2016 and 2017) to land the title back-to-back in just over 30 years.

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