Cheeky chap Bob MacIntyre ready for his Open debut

Scotland's Robert MacIntyre in the bunker on the 12th hole at the Scottish Open. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
Scotland's Robert MacIntyre in the bunker on the 12th hole at the Scottish Open. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
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Sitting in the corner of the clubhouse at Glencruitten Golf Club in Oban, Bob MacIntyre smiles after it had been pointed out that he was looking lean. “I’m not doing more work in the gym, I’m just doing more fitness and cardio,” he replies. “I do a bit with the resistance band when I’m on the tour, but you won’t see me lifting heavy weights – maybe lifting Tunnocks Teacakes instead!”

There’s definitely a bit of the cheeky chap in MacIntyre, the 22-year-old left-hander who has emerged as one of the brightest talents in European golf this season. Also part of his DNA is a laid-back attitude that translates into a good temperament on the course, though he’s not sure where that comes from.

“My dad, Dougie, is a bit of a hot-head,” he said, laughing. “Don’t get me wrong, I get seriously angry on the golf course. Me and my coach, Davy Burns, have worked on that. It’s just like thinking about hot coal, you are not going to keep hold of it once it’s past you. Once it’s done, it’s done.”

MacIntyre has been knocking at the door in his rookie season on the European Tour. He finished joint-second in the Betfred British Masters at Hillside after a brilliant finish then, in his next outing, was pipped by Austrian Bernd Wiesberger following a ding-dong battle on the last day in the Made in Denmark at Himmerland.

“When the win comes, I’m sure I’ll go absolutely mental on the green,” he declared. “I thought I had it in Denmark. You just don’t know how it’s going to affect you. If I had got over the line there, I would have been safe for the year.”

His card for next season has since been secured, a notable achievement when you consider that he’s still learning the ropes, so to speak, in the professional ranks. As a reward for a strong opening half to the year, MacIntyre is now looking forward to making his major debut, having secured a spot in this week’s 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush through his lofty position in the Race to Dubai rankings.

He came tantalisingly close to teeing it up in the game’s oldest major at Royal Troon three years ago when falling at the final hurdle in the Amateur Championship at Royal Porthcawl. A spot in the Masters also slipped through his grasp in South Wales.

“Missing out on The Open and The Masters when I lost the Amateur final, I was absolutely heartbroken, especially the Masters,” he admitted. “For any golfer, that’s the one you would love to go to. But for me to win, it would be the Open, being a Scot. I thought I might not get that shot again. But to finally get the opportunity makes all the practice worthwhile.”

While it’s a step into the unknown in terms of the majors, he has Portrush playing experience, having represented Scotland at the County Antrim venue in the 2015 Home Internationals, and he is determined to take the week in his stride.

“I usually like to get there on the Monday, so that I can get in two practice rounds because normally I’m not in the Pro-Am on the Wednesday. But we’re changing that this week because there’s no Pro-Am so I’ll get there on Monday night, practice Tuesday and Wednesday and then just go for it,” he said.

“There’s been no one that has sprung to mind who I’d like to ask for advice. I’ll not go out of my way to speak to the big names, just as I’m not going to go looking for a practice round with Tommy Fleetwood or someone like that which would put me in a different environment.

“I’m just going to do my own thing, maybe try to get a game with James Sugrue (the Irishman who won last month’s Amateur Championship at Portmarnock) who I’ve played amateur golf with. I’d have to play if Tiger [Woods] asked you, but the chances of that are slim!”