Bob MacIntyre got the message: American Kurt Kitayama aims to let his clubs do the talking in their European Tour Rookie of the Year title battle in Dubai this week.
Asked if there had been a bit of chat between the pair as they shot matching one-under-par 71s playing together in the first round of the DP World Tour Championship, MacIntyre replied: “Not too much.”
“I can talk the back legs off a donkey,” added the 23-year-old from Oban, smiling. “I try and get the chat going but, a lot of the time, guys don’t want to. You just get the hint that they are not wanting to talk.”
MacIntyre admitted he wasn’t in the mood to do much talking himself after starting the back nine on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates with a double-bogey 6, having turned in two-under 34 following birdies at the second, fifth and seventh.
That setback was compounded by a bogey two holes later but, after repairing some of the damage with birdies at the 14th and 16th, the left-hander was satisfied with his day’s work in front of a small army of fans that included his mum and dad, Carol and Dougie. “I actually played good, just got the wind wrong on a couple of occasions, and, overall, I thought it was all right and positive,” he said.
In a rookie season that has seen him rack up seven top-ten finishes, MacIntyre hasn’t been scared to take on difficult challenges and this round included another one. After pushing his opening tee shot into the trees, it didn’t seem possible for him to find the green but that’s exactly what he did, drawing gasps of astonishment from the crowd as he hit a 7-iron to around 10 feet.
“Greg [Milne, his caddie] was talking about going low and running it in and almost accepting the bunker,” said MacIntyre as he reflected on that majestic blow. “But I could see light and air between the trees and I thought, ‘well, the ball is going through there’. It was sitting fine and I hit it perfect.”
In the projected Race to Dubai standings, MacIntyre is down two places to 13th but is still one spot above Katayama, a two-time winner this season. Spaniard Adri Arnaus, who is also in the race for the Sir Henry Cotton award but needs a big finish this weekend, is 36th on the projected list after an opening 70, with Italian Guido Migliozzi, the last of the four contenders, in 42nd.
“I feel if I can get my game in shape tomorrow, I can get back in the golf tournament,” said MacIntyre. “Right now, I’m happy enough to walk off one-under-par. My job is to win my battle. If I win every battle that I set myself, then the outcome will be irrelevant, and it will be what it will be.”
• Turkish Airlines fly daily to Dubai via Istanbul with golf clubs flying for free. Check out turkishairlines.com