Bob MacIntyre secures automatic Ryder Cup spot after fortnight of 'hell'
The 27-year-old Oban man admitted it had been “hell” over the past fortnight as he tried to join Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm in getting into Luke Donald’s team off a European Points list.
But, as his final five challengers all came up short of their minimum requirement in the last qualifying event, the Omega European Masters in Switzerland, it was job done.
MacIntyre, who won the Italian Open last September on the Ryder Cup course at Marco Simone Golf Club on the outskirts of the Italian capital, will be the first Scot to compete in the biennial contest since Stephen Gallacher’s appearance on home soil at Gleneagles in 2014.
“I am so excited,” said MacIntyre of securing his spot. “It’s been a tough qualifying campaign, but I am pleased with the way I have dealt with the challenge and to have earned one of the six automatic spots. I’ve worked hard to play in the Ryder Cup, but now it’s important that we go on and win it.”
MacIntyre was joined in clinching an automatic spot by Matthew Fitzpatrick, who, despite missing out on a record-equalling third title triumph in Switzerland after dropping three shots in the last four holes as victory went instead to Swede Ludvig Aberg in just his ninth start as a professional, jumped above Tommy Fleetwood on a World Points list by finishing in a tie for third with Scot Connor Syme.
Viktor Hovland and Tyrrell Hatton had already qualified from that, leaving Donald, who is leading Europe into battle in the 44th edition against a US team being captained by Zach Johnson, to announce his six captain’s picks on Monday afternoon.
Having capped an eye-catching start to his professional career by landing a maiden DP World Tour win – he signed off with a superb 64 to finish two shots ahead of compatriot Alexander Bjork on 19-under – Aberg strengthened his claim for one of those wildcards, one of which will definitely now go to Fleetwood.
Others in the reckoning are current Italian Open champion Meronk, Austrian Sepp Straka, five-time Ryder Cup player Justin Rose, 2019 Open champion Shane Lowry and Dane Nicolai Hojgaard.
MacIntyre, who was pipped by McIlroy’s birdie-birdie finish in the Genesis Scottish Open in July, had cemented his position after finishing with a birdie to secure a timely top-five finish in last week’s D+D Real Czech Masters in Prague, where he was paired with Donald for the opening two rounds.
That meant his closest challenger, German Yannik Paul, had to finish second or better and Pole Adrian Meonk, who was next on the European Points list, third or better to have a chance of pipping the left-hander at the post in the year-long qualifying campaign. Though both produced valiant efforts in the Alps, it wasn’t to be for either of them as they had to settle for top-20 finishes.
“The last two weeks have been hell,” admitted MacIntyre, who, as well as finding himself in Donald’s company in Prague, was also paired with Paul and Meronk for the first 36 holes at Crans-sur-Sierre. “Pairings in the first two rounds, media hype - everything has just been tough.”
After digging deep on Friday to make the cut in Crans Montana for the first time in three attempts, MacIntyre closed with two 70s – the latter included a double-bogey 6 at the 18th – to finish in a tie for 55th on three-under-par.
“I’m happy to be going home, to be honest,” he said. “It’s been a poor week on the greens. I felt like I played half decent. Today I was trying to find a decent game. I was hitting different shots and the week was rounded off by the last hole. Yeah, just disappointing.
“It’s not been my favourite place in the past. I felt my game was good coming into it, but I just didn’t have my game on the greens. I putted absolutely horrifically all week. Yeah, the pressure was high, but that’s why I play golf.”
Instead of teeing up in next week’s Horizon Irish Open at The K Club, MacIntyre will now take a week off before returning to action in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth the following week.