Talk about a Bobby dazzler! It was a day to remember, after all, in the £3 million Betfred British Masters for Bob MacIntyre. The 22-year-old from Oban finished eagle-birdie at Hillside in the company of the tournament host, Tommy Fleetwood. That was set to get him into a play-off until Swede Marcus Kinhult also birdied the last to claim his maiden European Tour victory.
In sharing second spot with defending champion Eddie Pepperell and another Englishman, Matt Wallace, MacIntyre recorded his best finish on the main Tour, having graduated from the Challenge Tour last season. The effort, which came in only his 14th event on the circuit, earned him around £224,000, more than double his earnings coming into this week.
It has also lifted him to 36th in the Race to Dubai. Oh, and as an added bonus, he won a £20,000 necklace for making most birdies in the event, signing for 24 over the course of the four days on the Lancashire coast, where he was backed up Richie Ramsay as the Aberdonian claimed fifth spot on his own after he, too, signed off with a birdie.
“I had been there or thereabouts but never managed to get in the thick of it and I was disappointed about that,” said MacIntyre, whose best efforts prior to this had been a tie for 15th in back-to-back events in South Africa in December.
“Today couldn’t have been a better day to change that, playing with Tommy and in front of those big crowds, it was brilliant.”
After an early setback – he ran up a double-bogey 7 at the second after pushing his tee shot into a water hazard close to the Southport to Liverpool railway line – the left-hander handled the biggest test of his career so far like a seasoned professional. His finish suggests it is only a matter of time before he joins Kinhult, a fellow 22-year-old, as a main tour winner.
From 231 yards, he knocked a 5-wood to three feet to set up his eagle at the 17th. After splitting the fairway at the last with his drive, he then hit a 6-iron – “catching the life out of it,” reported his caddie, Greg Milne – to five feet and, with a huge throng of people around the green, rolled that in for a closing 68 and a 15-under total.
“The double bogey at the second helped me in a way as it settled me down,” said MacIntyre, who is based at Glencruitten Golf Club in his home town. “It made me think, ‘you are almost out of it here so just go on and play your own golf’.
“To finish that way was fantastic. I had to go for it in the end – it was all or nothing. We were between clubs at 17, but that wind suited us. That’s the best shot I’ve hit in a long time. After I’d hit the tee shot at the last, Tommy’s caddie [Ian Finnis] even said that if there was ever a pin for me to make birdie it was a back left one. Again we were between clubs, but I cut in a 6-iron that was perfect.”
The former Scottish Amateur champion hadn’t been in the right frame of mind when he missed the cut in Morocco a fortnight ago following a five-week break. This week was a family affair, though, and having his mum and dad, as well as his two foster brothers, around him away from the course helped keep him relaxed.
“Tom and Dan have kept me on my toes,” he said of the two youngsters. “Last night I wasn’t even thinking about winning a golf tournament. Before they go to bed, you are having a game of ‘Knock Knock’. In fact, standing over the eagle putt on 17, I was closing my eyes and thinking ‘Knock Knock’.”
Kinhult, right, who joined fellow Swedes Johan Edfors (2006) and Alex Noren (2016) in landing this prize, clearly loves links golf, having stormed to an eight-shot success in the Lytham Trophy, one of the leading events in the amateur game in 2015. Victory here seemed to be slipping from his grasp after dropping shots at the 15th and 16th, but a birdie-birdie finish, holing from 12 feet at the last, did the trick.
“Unreal,” said Kinhult of a success that earned him £500,000. “I’ve been dreaming about it for such a long time and to do it now is amazing. Ramsay’s hopes of landing a fourth tour triumph were dashed when he also took a 7 at the second after finding the hazard that MacIntyre was in then dropped another shot a couple of holes later. But, helped by covering the last 11 holes in three under for a 72 and a 12-under total, he chalked up a first top-ten finish in more than 16 months. “It was one of those where I showed grit and determination,” said the 35-year-old. “I didn’t have my best game but it was all heart. I played good coming down the stretch.”