Bob MacIntyre is on course to become the first Scot to be crowned as the European Tour Rookie of the Year since 2006, but a frustrating couple of days in the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai was summed up by a quip.
Asked after having to settle for a two-over-par 74 in his second circuit on the Greg Norman-designed Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates if he planned to head to the range to work on his game, the 23-year-old from Oban replied, jokingly: “No, I’ll just go and snap all the clubs!”
Sitting joint-32nd on one-over for the tournament, MacIntyre lies a shot ahead of Kurt Kitayama, his main rival in the Rookie of the Year title battle, with the American needing to finish in the top 18 to have a chance of leapfrogging the Scot in the season-ending event.
The gap between the pair, though, had been five shots with six holes to play and there was no hiding MacIntyre’s disappointment as he reflected on the fact he effectively left the door ajar when it could have been slammed shut.
Level-par for the day, the left-hander was a bit unlucky to see a lovely chip run four feet past the hole as he bogeyed the par-3 13th before a wayward tee shot into the water cost him a double-bogey 5 at the 17th.
He then did well to make a par at the last after being wet again with his drive, salvaging that mini-crisis by finding the heart of the green with a 3-wood from 260 yards.
“I actually played all right,” said MacIntrye, who is bidding to cap a season that has contained seven top-10 finishes by securing the Rookie of the Year accolade. “I just couldn’t get the ball near the hole and the day was just summed up on 17. I picked the wrong start line. I knew it was going to fade and it went straight in the water.
“At the last, I felt I hit a great tee shot. I saw it bounce once and I’m thinking, ‘perfect, it’s in the middle of the fairway’. Got there and boys are looking in the water, which was disappointing.
“I still had about 260 to the pin into a strong wind so I was thinking to myself, ‘you can’t finish double-double here’. It was bogey avoidance and I hit one of the best 3-woods I have in a while on to the green. But I am disappointed with the finish.”
It had been a ragged day for Californian Kitayama, a two-time winner this season, before a lovely chip at the last set up his only birdie of the round in a 75.
“I can’t worry about him,” insisted MacIntyre, who reckons it could be a good thing that, after playing together on the opening two days, they will be away from each other in the third round in the Rolex Series event.
“I’ve got to go and try and win a golf tournament instead of winning Rookie of the Year. I’m not really worried about Rookie of the Year. If it happens, it will happen. I just wanted to get back in the golf tournament today and I’ve not done that.
“I’ve got to throw in a low one tomorrow. If I do that, then potentially it is all over. But until it is over on Sunday night, then anything can happen. You saw the finish today.
“It could be either one of us going up the last with the lead and disaster can strike. But hopefully not. Hopefully I can go out over the weekend and play some solid golf.”
Led by his mum and dad, Carol and Dougie, MacIntyre is being cheered on outside the ropes by a small group of fans from Oban - and he is desperate to play better for them in the final 36 holes.
“It’s brilliant. Greg (Milne, his caddie) even said to me walking down the first when he came out when he goes ‘jeezo, this is like the Scottish Open all over again’,” said MacIntyre, the sole Scot in this field.
“But I’m just disappointed that I’ve not put on a show for them. I am looking forward to trying to put in two solid ones over the weekend and see where we finish.”