Bob MacIntyre reveals his self-imposed shinty ban for Ryder Cup

Bob MacIntyre gazes at the Ryder Cup trophy during the pro-am prior to the BMW International Open at Golfclub Munchen Eichenried in June 21. Picture: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images.Bob MacIntyre gazes at the Ryder Cup trophy during the pro-am prior to the BMW International Open at Golfclub Munchen Eichenried in June 21. Picture: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images.
Bob MacIntyre gazes at the Ryder Cup trophy during the pro-am prior to the BMW International Open at Golfclub Munchen Eichenried in June 21. Picture: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images.
Bob MacIntyre banned himself from playing shinty in the final few weeks of the Ryder Cup qualifying campaign to ensure that his dream of making Europe’s team in Rome wasn’t scuppered by a non-golfing injury.

The 27-year-old has made no secret of shinty being a huge passion, having turned out for his beloved Oban Celtic - his dad Dougie is the team manager - on numerous occasions since he started out on the DP World Tour in 2019.

He was still swinging his caman whenever the opportunity arose earlier in the year, but, after moving into one of the automatic spots for Luke Donald’s team on the back of his second-place finish behind Rory McIlroy in the Genesis Scottish Open in July, he conceded there was too much to lose.

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“It was Bob MacIntyre’s instructions,” he said, speaking on a zoom call about successfully securing his spot in the 12-man side for the 44th edition of the transatlantic tussle at Marco Simone Golf Club on the outskirts of the Italian capital at the end of this month.

“I was driving home from The Open and speaking to people in the car and we decided that if I played shinty and got injured and got in the team and was unable to play I’d never live it down. I’d regret it for the rest of my life.

“I’ve not touched a stick. I’ll go to training but just to watch and chat with the boys. I can’t risk it. There’s too much to lose. This is the best thing that’s happened in my career. It’s a risk that’s not worth taking.”

MacIntyre, who will be the first Scot to play in the event since Stephen Gallacher’s appearance at Gleneagles in 2014, spent his first day as a Ryder Cup team member at home in Oban, having flown back from the final qualifying event in Switzerland on Sunday.

“To be honest with you, it didn’t change,” he replied to being asked how he’d spent Monday. “I went up and spent some time with my mum, who was looking after my wee niece. I then picked up my other niece from nursery. Had dinner at my mum’s with the family. Nothing changed.I’m going to play golf later on with some of the boys. My life ain’t changing.”

The Scot will join Swede Ludvig Aberg, Austrian Sepp Straka and Dane Nicolai Hojgaard as rookies in a side that also includes Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland, Tyrrell Hatton, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose and Shane Lowry.

Relieved to have held off both German Yannik Paul and Pole Adrian Meronk over the final few weeks of a year-long qualifying campaign to secure a coveted automatic berth, MacIntyre had just arrived at Geneva airport on Sunday evening when he received a call from Donald to offer his congratulations.

“I was in the lounge and I got a phone call,” said the two-time DP World Tour winner, including an Italian Open triumph on the Ryder Cup course last September. “I had my earphones in and I got the phone call so I answered it. He said ‘can you facetime?’ I had my hands full, with two bags and everything going on. I said to him ‘I will facetime you in two seconds’ so I found a quiet corner in the lounge and spoke to him for about two minutes.

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“It’s just cool to be part of it. It’s what I have dreamed of as a kid. I just hope it’s everything I have dreamed of, I’m sure it will be and more. Luke has been brilliant. Since I got in that team, he has been on board and he has messaged.”

MacIntyre had also been in the reckoning for the 2021 team at Whistling Straits before being overlooked by Padraig Harrington, the captain on that occasion, for one of his picks. Though happy with his decision at the time, MacIntyre tried to secure his PGA Tour instead of playing on the DP World Tour towards the end of that qualifying campaign.

In contrast, he’s been fully committed to his current home circuit this time around. His only appearance in America this year was in the US PGA Championship in May and, though that stunning Scottish Open effort definitely played a big part in his “only goal” for 2023 being achieved, playing in low-key events in Kenya, Japan and Korea in March and April proved just as significant when it came to the reckoning in that points battle.

“Yeah, they turned out to be pretty big,” he admitted. “I just felt that every week, no matter whether it was one point or a couple of hundred points, they were all massive in the race. I had one goal and that was to make the Ryder Cup team and I did absolutely everything I could. I played Galgorm Castle, where I wouldn’t normally have played, just to knock the rust off for playing in Prague and that gave me enough of a cushion that they needed something back to catch me, so it was all well worth it in the end.”

To catch his breath as much as anything, MacIntyre has pulled out of this week’s Horizon Irish Open before lining up with his Ryder Cup team-mates in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth next week. “I know the majority of them,” he said. “I maybe get on closer with Shane and Tyrrell, probably because we have a similar sort of personality. We are maybe a bit volatile at times, but we are always up for a good laugh when we can.

“I’m just looking forward to experiencing it. People have said it will be the best week of my life, I will learn so much and become closer to the guys in that team.

I’m just looking forward to getting there and experiencing it – and trying to win that cup back.”

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