He’s had a caman in his hands a fair bit over the past three weeks as shinty continues to give him the “balance” in life that has been a secret to his success, but now it’s time for Bob MacIntyre to get back down to business on the golf course.
In his first outing since finishing in a tie for sixth behind Shane Lowry on his major debut in the Open Championship at Royal Portrush, MacIntyre lines up in the D+D Real Czech Masters, which gets under way today at the Albatross Golf Resort in Prague.
The left-hander, who turned 23 since closing with a 68 in difficult conditions on the Antrim coast to secure a spot in next year’s Claret Jug event at Royal St George’s, is eager to get going again, having hit the reset button after a whirlwind spell that also included being in the same group as Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler for two days in the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club.
“I am looking forward to getting going again, but it was good to enjoy a bit of a chill factor over the past weeks,” MacIntyre told The Scotsman. “I think the break came at a perfect time, to be honest. Everything happened so fast from the Scottish Open draw then doing that in The Open. It gave me a chance to sit back and realise what I have achieved in such a short space of time.”
His effort at Portrush was the best finish by a Scot in the game’s oldest major since Colin Montgomerie finished second to Tiger Woods in 2005 at St Andrews. He’s 16th in the Race to Dubai after winning more than one million Euros in his rookie season on the European Tour, sits 102nd in the world rankings and is having to re-assess schedules and goals.
“Different routes opened up for different things,” he said of an opportunity to make his PGA Tour debut in Nevada on the back of his performance in Northern Ireland but turning that down. “It was about finding out where the right place is for me at this moment, which is effectively still the start of my professional career. It was about getting everything in place and re-starting, really.”
Despite his lofty position in the Race to Dubai, MacIntyre is not yet guaranteed a spot in next month’s BMW PGA Tour Championship at Wentworth, though he does look set to play in a trio of Rolex Series events at the end of the season, including the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
“Once you secure your card, the next goal is to try and get in events like the final three and then anything can happen,” he said. “My goal is to get as high as I can in the Order of Merit.
“Obviously I’d like to win an event. I feel as though I’ve had a chance to do that this year with the positions I’ve been in, but it’s not been my time to do it. It would be nice to get over the line before the end of the year, though. It’s about being ready when that chance comes.
“My game has been in a good place and hopefully I can get the putter going in the next few weeks. Davy [Burns, his coach] was up in Oban for a few days last week. We have been doing our usual work on the long game, but also did stuff on the putting aspect of it as well.
“I’ve just not felt comfortable over the putter at times this year. But that’s just the way I’ve always been. I’ve either been really good or pretty poor. But it’s starting to take good shape now. I think I’m going to have to accept that I’m going to be a streaky putter. It’s just about trying to get your poorer days better.”
It was earlier in the year after a rare missed cut this season that MacIntyre decided he needed something else in his life other than golf, and therefore started to do some shinty training with Oban Celtic, the team managed by his dad Dougie, when he wasn’t travelling around the globe.
“That’s what I enjoyed most about my three weeks off,” he declared, having auctioned his TaylorMade bag from The Open to raise money to help James Tangney, a shinty player who suffered an injury while in India that left him paralysed from the neck down, with his rehabilitation. “It was a case of getting my head away from everything, meeting the boys and just chilling out at home and have some banter with them.
“I really started back at training the week before the British Masters [in which he finished joint second] in May. Once I came back from Morocco, I decided that I needed something else in my life other than golf. It is about getting a balance and I think I have found that at the moment.
“The boys at home still treat me like one of the boys. There’s no difference. Even when you are at shinty training, they treat you just like everyone else. They treat me normally and that’s what I like.”
Stephen Gallacher, David Law, Scott Jamieson, Richie Ramsay, Grant Forrest, Liam Johnston, Marc Warren and Duncan Stewart are also playing in Prague, where the field is headed by Scottish Open champion Bernd Wiesberger and a rejuvenated Lee Westwood.