'Look out' says Bob MacIntyre's coach as Scot gets irons dialled in for US PGA

Having watched him dial in his irons last week, Bob MacIntyre’s coach says “look out” for the Scot as he bids to make his presence felt on a major leaderboard for a second time this year.

David Burns was both coach and caddie for Bob MacIntyre when he finished joint-second in the 2019 Porsche European Open at Green Eagle Golf Course in Hamburg. Picture: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images.

MacIntyre finished joint-12th in The Masters on his first trip to the US this year, having warmed up for his debut at Augusta National by topping a group that included world No 1 Dustin Johnson in the WGC Match Play in Texas.

But David Burns, who is based at Kingsfield Golf Centre on the outskirts of Linlithgow, reckons the 24-year-old from Oban “never really had his A game” in a stint of six events in eight weeks.

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MacIntyre is now back on the other side of the Atlantic for this week’s US PGA Championship on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island and Burns, who also works with Stephen Gallacher and Calum Hill, says he is firing on all cylinders again.

“To be honest, I think Bob did just okay in America,” said Burns of that earlier trip, which contained a solitary missed cut on his first appearance at TPC Sawgrass in The Players’ Championship.

“But he never really had his A game, even by his own admission. During the eight-week stint, about halfway through I went across and he was struggling a bit and, at Sawgrass at the Players, he struggled badly.

“Fortunately, we had time then to get things done and when he went to the Matchplay, that was the catalyst - going head-to-head with top guys like Dustin Johnson.

“When he’d beaten Kevin Na on the first day and he was playing Johnson the next, the night before he was really buzzing, just couldn’t wait. I thought it was great he was like that.”

Buoyed by his endeavours that week, MacIntyre then produced a performance in The Masters that was every bit as impressive as finishing joint-sixth on his major debut in the 2019 Open at Royal Portrush.

“The timing was great,” added Burns of the left-hader’s final event before Augusta, where he narrowly missed out on becoming the first Scot in more than 20 years to finish in the top 10 but, nonetheless, secured a return trip next year through his week’s work, being a different format to the normal diet of stroke-play.

“His golf was improving in practice but the Match Play gave him the chance, if he hit a destructive one it wouldn’t be the end of the world, it would just be one hole. The schedule worked out well for us, and we all saw what happened at Augusta.”

MacIntyre, who is flying the Saltire along with Martin Laird in the season’s second major on the South Carolina coast, was disappointed not to win the Betfred British Masters at the weekend after holding a share of the lead early in the final round at The Belfry.

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However, Burns predicted last year after he’d landed his maiden European Tour win in the Cyprus Showdown that the former 2015 Scottish Amateur champion would break into the world’s top 50 and he is excited about what the future holds for his man.

“He’s predominantly a ‘feel’ player,” said Burns of the world No 45. “He hits the ball a long way for his size, a long way through the air which is crucial. His set-up with the driver wasn’t quite right sometimes in his first year on tour, but it’s better now, the driver became the best club in the bag.

“Recently his irons weren’t so good, but we made changes and, at The Belfry, he said he has his numbers back and he’s pin high again. When he’s doing that, look out.”

With Hill also looking as though he could become a European Tour winner before too long, it’s an exciting time for Burns, who was well aware of MacIntyre before he started working with MacIntyre just before he turned professional in 2017.

“I’m still one of the coaches for Stevie Gallacher’s Foundation, so I first heard of him shooting three 66s at The Roxburghe at the Scottish Boys’ Stroke Play in 2013,” he recalled. “I thought geez-o, that’s some player.

“Much later on a couple of his pals had been to see me and they recommended he give me a call. He sent me a text saying, ‘it’s Bob, the left-hander from Glencruitten, I’m the Scottish Amateur champion, can I see you for a couple of hours’.

“He came through with his Dad, that was before he played the Walker Cup, and it’s gone from there. To be honest I didn’t like his technique much at first, but obviously he was a great player.

“I thought to have achieved what he’s done, with a technique that I considered wouldn’t cut in the pro game, that really excited me. I thought if I can get his technique where we want it to be, the sky’s the limit. That’s pretty much how it’s panned out.”

MacIntyre has been paired in the opening two rounds with Cameron Champ, who he played in both singles sessions in the 2017 Walker Cup at Los Angeles, winning the first one then halving the second one.

Another American and recent Austrian Open winner, John Catlin, makes up the group, with Laird, who is making his first appearance in the event since 2017, also out with two US players in Kevin Kisner and Hudson Swafford.

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