Bob MacIntyre’s 63 in Turkey has former Masters champion purring

Playing partner Patrick Reed congratulates Bob MacIntyre on his round of 63 after the second day of the Turkish Airlines Open. Picture: Warren Little/Getty Images
Playing partner Patrick Reed congratulates Bob MacIntyre on his round of 63 after the second day of the Turkish Airlines Open. Picture: Warren Little/Getty Images
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The young man from Oban continues to make the golfing world sit up and take notice. Bob MacIntyre’s latest eye-catching effort in his brilliant rookie season on the European Tour – a best-of-the day nine-under-par 63 in the second round of the $7 million Turkish Airlines Open – was delivered in the company of 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed.

“He played really well. It was awesome to see,” said the American of a blistering effort from MacIntyre as he carded nine birdies, stormed home in 29 and leapt into contention in another Rolex Series event, having been in the mix in the Italian Open last month before finishing joint-fourth.

“I played with him yesterday, when it was kind of a struggle for both of us,” added Reed, who celebrated being handed a captain’s pick by Tiger Woods for next month’s Presidents Cup in Australia by also going low on day two with a 65 at Montgomerie Maxx Royal on the Mediterranean coast in Belek.

“To see him kind of flip the switch today, especially on the back nine and shoot 29 was special. He hits it a long way. He also hits it really straight and, when you can do that, it makes the golf course a lot easier.”

Like so many others over the past 11 months since his step up from the Challenge Tour, Reed wasn’t just impressed by MacIntyre’s game. “He is a great young fellow,” he added. “He has a great demeanour, especially as he was saying this is his first full year on Tour. He’s very young and clearly has a big career ahead of him as he was very impressive.”

While MacIntyre also shot 63 in the final round of the Kenya Open in March, this was his best effort in relation to par since joining the paid ranks just over two years ago. “I actually missed two good chances inside 12 feet, so it could have been really daft,” said the 23-year-old after moving to 10-under-par, just two shots behind the halfway leader, Austrian Matthias Schwab, pictured inset,in joint-sixth on a tightly-bunched leaderboard. “But I have probably produced my best-ever round of golf out there today, so I can’t complain.”

The effort was sparked by an opening birdie at the tenth, which he followed by picking up further shots at the 13th and 15th going out before adding birdies at the first, second, third with a chip in, fifth, sixth and ninth, where he signed off in style by almost stiffing an 8-iron from 173 yards, in that brilliant back nine.

“I’m a big confidence player when the putter gets going and, on the back nine, the hole felt like a bucket,” he said of a round that contained just 23 putts, including 11 single putts. “I am driving it as well as I ever had. I also feel my iron play is getting there this week and that is thanks to Davy [Burns, his coach] being here.”

With Justin Rose, who is trying to win this event for the third year in a row, also in the mix on the same total, as well as former Masters champion Danny Willett and 2016 Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open winner Alex Noren chasing Schwab, it is probably take more of the same from MacIntyre over the next couple of days to land his breakthrough win on the circuit after three second-place finishes this season.

“I don’t know how to win yet out here,” said the left-hander. “I’ve just got to keep doing what I’ve been doing all season. If I keep playing how I am at the moment, it is bound to happen. It’s just about staying positive and enjoying myself.”

Sitting ninth in the Race to Dubai, MacIntyre is on course to become the first Scot to claim the Rookie of the Year Award since Marc Warren in 2006. American Kurt Kitayama, who is his closest challenger in 14th spot, topped the 
leaderboard at one point early on in the second round after making two eagles in the first four holes before having to settle for a 68 to sit on seven-under.

“I saw him on the leaderboard and I said to my caddie: ‘let’s get things going here’,” said MacIntyre. “The Rookie of the Year Award is just another challenge. It pushes you on.”

On a day when Schwab, who has recorded the most top-ten finishes on the circuit this season with nine, carded an eagle and four birdies to maintain his position at the top of the leaderboard, Scott Jamieson finished with three birdies in the last four holes as he backed up an opening 67 with a 68 to sit a shot behind MacIntyre in joint-11th.

“I didn’t hit as good off the tee today on the front nine, but the back nine was certainly good,” said the Florida-based Glaswegian after making six birdies on this stretch as he came home in 32.

“I knew I still had a lot of chances to come on the back nine and hit a good wedge to five feet at the tenth before making easy birdies at both the 11th and 13th.”

Jamieson, who sits 74th in the Race to Dubai and needs a good finish here in order to ensure he moves on to South Africa next week for the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City, added: “It is really bunched up, but I will be trying to keep the foot down.”

After finishing his first round in Turkey with four straight birdies, Richie Ramsay resumed by making another one but then suffered a frustrating day around the greens as a 73 left him in a share of 45th spot on three-under, three ahead of fellow Scot David Drysdale after he carded a second successive 72.