Bob MacIntyre says The Concession is no gimme as WGC test

Bob MacIntyre pictured during the WGC HSBC Champions at Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai in November 2019. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.Bob MacIntyre pictured during the WGC HSBC Champions at Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai in November 2019. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.
Bob MacIntyre pictured during the WGC HSBC Champions at Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai in November 2019. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.
It may be called The Concession but, according to Bob MacIntyre, the venue for this week’s WGC-Workday Championship is not a gimme.

“It’s a cracking golf course, a great course,” said the young Scot of a layout that was designed in honour of the 1969 Ryder Cup at Royal Birkdale.

That saw Jack Nicklaus concede a putt to Tony Jacklin in one of the greatest acts of sportsmanship witnessed in the game, resulting in the event’s first tie.

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On the back of that, Nicklaus and Jacklin team up to design The Concession Golf Club, which is located to the west of Bradenton in Florida.

“I feel as though it is generous off the tees,” added MacIntyre, speaking to the Golf Channel of the new WGC venue, the event having been scheduled to take place in Mexico before being moved due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“But, once you are hitting it into the greens, and I said this to my caddie, you could hit 18 greens out here and miss every single one just with the run offs or get it on the wrong side of slopes.

“It’s a real thinker’s golf course and a big key this week is going to be the short game as you are not going to be hitting 18 greens out here. If you do, you’ve not missed a shot.

“It’s looking good and, if the wind gets up, it is going to be some test.”

MacIntyre, the sole Scot in the field for the $10.5 million event, has been paired with Canadian Mackenzie Hughes and Australian Lucas Herbert in today’s opening round.

“I expect a lot,” said the 24-year-old from Oban as he sets out at the start of a huge run of events as a reward for breaking into the world’s top 50 for the first time.

“I don’t say it but, inside, I expect a lot from myself. My team expects it from me because of the expectation I put on myself.

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“But it’s a game of golf and, although the level goes up, the game of golf doesn’t change. The winner is the man who hits the ball least over 72 holes and that’s all we’ve got to try and do.

“I expect to win golf tournaments. I wouldn’t turn up at golf tournaments if I didn’t want to try and win, but there’s a lot that goes into that.

“If I can do all my little process goals well, then come Sunday, we might be looking well.”

The Cyprus Showdown champion was asked where he expected to be in golf in five years’ time.

“I’m not sure,” he replied to that. “It’s one I’ve not really thought about. But winning golf tournaments is the only bit that defines a golf career.

“You can finish in the top 10 a lot, but you are not going to be remembered for that.

“You are only going to be remembered for winning and contending in major championships and WGCs as well.”

World No 1 Dustin Johnson heads a star-studded line up, with Rory McIlroy hoping that history repeats itself after a disappointment.

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His last five missed cuts have been followed by two wins, a second place, a fourth and a 12th, which is a huge encouragement as he bids to bounce back from an early exit in last week’s Genesis Invitational in Los Angeles.

“I know the last two missed cuts I've had I went and played well. I won Canada and I bounced back after Portrush and got into the final group at a World Golf Championship,” said the Northern Irishman.

“It's funny, it's going to sound really weird, I worked so hard the week before Riviera in that week off, but I felt so unprepared to play, if that makes sense.

“I stood on the range for hours a day hitting golf balls and working on my swing, but didn't play golf. Didn't chip, didn't putt, didn't do any of the things that you need to do to shoot scores.

“So, even though I worked hard and worked on some stuff, I feel like it's sort of like clockwork.

“I have these weeks where I want to work on some things and fix some things and I try to cram everything in in the space of a week when it's probably something that should take two or three months to iron out.”

McIlroy, who likened this week’s test to The Bear’s Club, near his home in Jupiter in Florida, is feeling quietly confident that he will be back firing on all cylinders over the next four days.

“I think I learned a couple of things last week,” he added. “I was thinking way too much about the golf swing last week, even when I was out on the course.

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“Like, I probably spent five to 10 seconds over the ball longer than I usually do. There's quite a lot going through my head. You can't play golf like that.

“It doesn't need to be perfect, and I realise that, but you just want your bad shots, your bad swings, to not be destructive and over the past few weeks those bad swings have just been a little too destructive and put me in some bad positions.

“So I need to play with more freedom and I need to be able to swing away. It's sort of like do the work on the range and just trust that the more work you do, the more that it's just going to naturally find its way in there.”

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