Bob MacIntyre '˜probably better than I was at 22', says Tommy Fleetwood

Tommy Fleetwood paid European Tour rookie Bob MacIntyre a huge compliment after getting his first glimpse of the promising young Scot as his playing partner in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Bob MacIntyre plays a recovery shot from the desert in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Picture: Warren Little/Getty Images

“He looks good. He is probably better than I was at 22,” said Fleetwood, the 2017 Race to Dubai champion and winner of this event for the last two years, of the left-hander from Oban. “He does more good things than I did at that age.”

In closing with a one-over-par 73 - his worst score of the week - to finish just outside the top 60 with a 286 total in his Rolex Series debut, MacIntyre didn’t feel he’d done himself justice in Fleetwood’s company on the Englishman’s 28th birthday.

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However, Fleetwood said he’d seen enough from his fellow Challenge Tour graduate - MacIntyre was one of four Scots to earn a step up to the main tour this season - to predict a bright future for him.

Tommy Fleetwood was impressed with his young Scottish playing partner on the last day in the UAE. Picture: Warren Little/Getty Images

“He was impressive. He has a good attitude,” added the Ryder Cup player. “From what I saw, he strikes it very well and has a good all-round game. He is very smart and golf-savvy. As long as he stays on the right path, he’ll be fine. He has a good outlook. He’ll do very well.”

MacIntyre is making a habit of being paired with some of the game’s leading lights, having played in three rounds with two-time Open champion Ernie Els in back-to-back events in South Africa last month, with Charl Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters winner, also being in one of those groups.

“You can’t buy the experience I’ve had in my last three events,” he said, smiling. “To make the cut here first week out when I’m still a bit rusty was pleasing and it was good to play with Tommy today.

“He’s still quite young himself. He’s taken the same steps I have to get here and it is definitely an incentive to see how well he’s done.”

As was the case when he got the opportunity to watch Els and Schwartzel from close-quarters, the former Scottish Amateur champion squeezed as much as he possibly could from seeing Fleetwood close up.

“You’re watching all the time to see what they are doing and, while I thought I was good from tee to green, I was shown up today by Tommy,” declared MacIntyre.

Reflecting on a closing effort that contained a solitary birdie at the short 12th, he added:

“I played poor. The wind was tricky and I just couldn’t get the numbers right. Every time it was over the pin it was either short or long. I’m disappointed with today.”

MacIntyre now faces a 36-hole qualifier over the next two days to try and get into the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, the second leg of the circuit’s desert double-header.

Three spots are up for grabs in the event at Dubai Hills, where the hopefuls also include Marc Warren, Bradley Neil, David Law, Scott Henry, Liam Johnston and Jack McDonald.

Neil, who lost his European Tour card at the end of last season, has been in Dubai since Monday preparing for not only this event but his Challenge Tour campaign.

“Last year, my wedges and short game were really poor so I’ve been taking advantage of the fantastic short-game facilities at the Els Club,” said the Blairgowrie man.

“I also now own my own Trackman and to help improve those parts of my game. Alistair Parlane at the Els Club has been helping me this past week and also going out to play holes most days.”