Bob MacIntyre, the newly- crowned European Tour Rookie of the Year and first Scot to claim that coveted title in 13 years, has a “brilliant journey ahead of him”, according to Olympic champion Justin Rose.
The Englishman was speaking after he’d looked on as the 23-year-old from Oban secured the Sir Henry Cotton newcomers’ prize with a closing three-under-par 69 at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai to finish joint-14th behind Spaniard Jon Rahm in the DP World Tour Championship.
The polished performance secured 11th spot for MacIntyre in the Race to Dubai, finishing three places above American Kurt Kitayama, pictured, his main rival, in the battle for the rookie title, which was won in recent years by both Brooks Koepka and Rahm, now the world No 1 and No 3 respectively.
“He has a brilliant journey ahead of him,” said Rose of MacIntyre, who took his season’s earnings through the €2 million mark after picking up a cheque for €76,408 in the season-ending Rolex Series event. “I played with him for the first time in China recently, but I have been very aware of his game.”
Referring to the first of three second-placed finishes recorded by MacIntyre in his first campaign on the top tour after being among four Scots to graduate from the Challenge Tour last year, the 2013 US Open champion added: “In the British Masters this year, he hit a beautiful 5-iron into the last and made birdie. The quality of the shot he hit, I thought, ‘bloody hell, this lad can play’.
“He’s a really good player. He kind of has all the shots, really. When you grow up in Scotland, you think stereotypically he’ll be a low ball-hitter, but he can play any course. He can hit it high. He can stop the ball. He can hit the flop shot. He can play American-style golf with the best of them.
“He can clearly play golf in the wind, having grown up in the UK, but he’s not limited to that, which I think is fantastic at this stage in his career to already have a game that looks like it can travel.”
By virtue of finishing joint-sixth on his major debut at Royal Portrush in July, MacIntyre has already secured his spot in next year’s Open Championship at Royal St George’s. He’s set to climb to 65th in the world rankings on the back of this effort, giving him a great chance of breaking into the top 50 by the end of next March in time to secure an invitation for The Masters.
“He looks very humble and well-rooted,” said Rose in reply to being asked what advice he’d offer MacIntyre after his success in becoming the first Scot to win Rookie of the Year since Marc Warren in 2006 and become the 12th player from the home of golf to claim the honour. “Just down to earth. Just continue that, really.
“I don’t think expectations are ever good things. They come with success and you have to earn your way. He still has to prove himself. This is just chat. He still has to win and learn all those things.
“This is like the first little nugget that you are on your way. This should be a quick pat on the back, don’t take your eye off the ball and kick on. He’s got to kick on. Hopefully it makes him hungry.”
MacIntyre also picked up the Challenge Tour Graduate of the Year Trophy after recording seven top-ten finishes and was presented with both prizes by European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley as his mum and dad, Carol and Dougie, looked on along with his coach, David Burns. “I’m absolutely delighted,” MacIntyre said. “Halfway through the season, when it came on the radar that we could win both awards, it’s something that we set out to do, and today we finally can go to ease that we’ve finally achieved it, and now I’m absolutely over the moon for it.
“I’ve enjoyed the battle. The last few weeks have been hard, because I’ve been looking over my shoulder until last week when I got overtaken.
“But I could only control what I can control and that was putting some good golf shots on display, and I finally managed to put in two good rounds this week [he had effectively killed off Katayama’s chances by carding a 68 on Saturday] to seal it.”