Bob MacIntyre relishing 'special' Open appearance at St Andrews

He’s “lived the dream” in Ireland and England by playing in The Open and now Bob MacIntyre can’t wait to do that for the first time on Scottish soil in the 150th edition at St Andrews.

Bob MacIntyre shakes hands with his caddie Mike Thomson after tying for eighth in the 149th Open at Royal St George's Christopher Lee/Getty Images.

“It’s going to be special,” he said of that exciting milestone event, having secured his spot by tying for eighth behind Collin Morikawa at Royal St George’s on Sunday. “Playing in an Open at St Andrews has always been a dream of mine, so it’s going to be one to remember.”

MacIntyre has now secured top-10 finishes in his two starts in the Claret Jug event, having tied for sixth at Royal Portrush in 2019 as he took that debut appearance in his stride.

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“Hopefully I can perform there as well,” he added of that celebratory Old Course assignment in 12 months’ time. “Who knows, that might be the place where I win one of these? And it’ll be Bob’s Army marching around St Andrews. I’m sure they’ll be there.

“The crowds were brilliant in Ireland The crowds were brilliant at Sandwich. But to be a Scotsman competing in an Open in Scotland, you’re not going to beat that. The Scottish Open was brilliant with 10,000 fans. There’s going to be five times that number at St Andrews.”

MacIntyre was still a relative unknown on the world stage two years ago, but he’s gone from strength to strength, having now made the cut in all seven majors that he’s teed up in.

Equally impressive as his effort at Sandwich, where he closed with two brilliant rounds of 65-67 after making a birdie at the last on Friday to make the cut, was his tie for 12th as a first-timer in The Masters in April.

“The majors this year have been really good,” he said in assessing the events that matter most, both in terms of prize-money and world ranking points. “I’ve made every cut in them, which is always positive. But my next step is to compete and really fight for one of them on a Sunday. There’s plenty of time for me to do that.

“You can’t buy the experience I’ve had in these majors. My performances this year have been good whether it’s been in the majors, European Tour events, PGA Tour or WGC events. If I keep doing what I’m doing, I’ll knock one of these majors off.”

It’s been so far, so good, but, like every top player, the left-hander from Oban is still looking to do better. “I really just need to get the putter going early,” he said of what he felt needed to improve. “ I didn’t putt well over the first two days at Sandwich. I didn’t putt badly, but I gave myself chances without taking them. You need to get going early, get the confidence going.

“I played beautifully and putted beautifully over the last two rounds. So there’s not much missing. It’s all fine margins now. We’ll get there.”

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He’s just outside the automatic spots for the Ryder Cup in September and a win between now and the end of the qualifying race could get the job done, even if he has to rely on one of captain Padraig Harrington’s three picks.

“The next step is to be going out in the final two or three groups of a major,” he continued. “That’s the next step in my career. But I’ve got so much time on my hands. I need to work a bit smarter, maybe a bit harder on certain things.

“But what I’m doing, what the people around me are doing, it’s all the right things. And it’s showing in my performances.”

MacIntyre, who has jumped five spots to 48th in the world rankings on the back of his week’s work on the Kent coast, finishes as the second top European behind restored world No 1 Jon Rahm and was the top British player.

“I’m a true Scotsman and I love to fly the flag. To finish as top Brit makes it even better,” he admitted, smiling. “But the performance is just good for everything. For my belief and the belief of the people around me, who know we’re doing the right things.

“Looking at everything that’s coming up in the near future, there is a lot going on this year. I’m doing the right things to give myself a chance.”

It wasn’t that long ago that Scottish golf’s man of the moment was among those outside the ropes at the game’s oldest major, something he was quick to acknowledge as he savoured being someone putting smiles on the faces of spectators.

“I always just went to the Opens to watch the best players,” he said. “The most recent one was Troon (in 2016). I finished the Scottish or British Amateur, then went straight up and watched the Open at Troon. I watched one practice day, then Thursday and Friday.

“It’s a dream for any kid. Ask the lads who are competing at the Scottish Boys this week, what would you do if in four years’ time you’re competing in an Open? They would be over the moon because it’s every kid’s dream.

“And I do remember the roars when Monty or some of the other Scottish players were doing well. It’s completely different when it’s in Scotland, so special to watch. But it’s even better being in it.

“I had goosebumps on the 18th green on Saturday and Sunday, I said that to Mike [Thomson, his caddie]. Seeing it for other people is cool. But when it is happening to you, it is even more special.”

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