Of all the compliments that have been paid to Bob MacIntyre over the past day or so, it was one from the man who pipped him in a thrilling final-round battle in the Made in Denmark event that hit the nail on the head. “What a great player and even better bloke,” declared Austrian Bernd Wiesberger of the 22-year-old Scot.
In truth, that’s an opinion shared by many in the golfing world as MacIntyre has started to make his presence felt on European Tour leaderboards, having now recorded successive second-place finishes in his rookie season on the circuit after being among four Scots to graduate from the Challenge Tour last year.
The left-hander from Oban has emerged as one of the most exciting young talents in the European game, getting himself in the mix in the final round of the Betfred British Masters at Hillside then backing that up in his very next event with an equally-impressive performance.
Following those two dazzling displays, MacIntyre is up to 123rd in the world rankings, the second-highest Scot after Russell Knox in 71st. To put that into perspective, MacIntyre was outside the top 1,000 last August and was 296th when he came off the Challenge Tour along with Grant Forrest, Liam Johnston and David Law.
The former Scottish Amateur champion is also up to 13th in the Race to Dubai, sitting as the top Scot in those standings ahead of David Drysdale in 40th position. MacIntyre had already secured his card for next year after that splendid effort in the British Masters and now he is on course for the season-ending $8 million DP World Tour Championship.
Exciting times and, based on the way he handled being in the thick of things in the final round at both Hillside and Himmerland – he finished eagle-birdie at the former then signed off with a five-under 66 at the latter – it seems only a matter of time, really, before MacIntyre becomes the latest in a long line of Scots to taste victory on the European Tour. “A winner soon,” opined Wiesberger in his praise of the runner-up after the pair’s ding-dong battle on Sunday.
What he said about MacIntyre as a person was just as pleasing, surely, as hearing people talk about the playing prowess of a Scottish golfer with unbridled excitement. MacIntyre really is a lovely lad and the way he has handled himself, both on and off the course, at the start of his European Tour career hasn’t gone unnoticed by more experienced campaigners, caddies as well as players.
Tommy Fleetwood was full of praise for MacIntyre after watching him from close quarters in the penultimate group in that final round at Hillside and so, too, was his caddie, Ian Finnis, who really likes what he sees as MacIntyre and his caddie, young Irishman Greg Milne and fellow European Tour rookie, go about their business on the course.
In a recent chat with European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley, he spoke about the importance of home players being able to create storylines in national Opens and, boy, will the Canadian be excited about the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club in July.
It has been a great season so far for his Scottish members, after all, with David Law and Stephen Gallacher having led the way with their wins in the Vic Open and Hero Indian Open respectively, while there have now been nine top-five finishes by players flying the Saltire and 14 top-ten finishes.
Yes, Rory McIlroy will be a big attraction on the East Lothian coast, as will some other star names still to be announced for the Rolex Series event, but, at the same time, it will be equally exciting for the majority of Scottish golf fans to see MacIntyre, for example, in the flesh for the first time.
It didn’t seem very long ago that the Scottish game at the top level had little to shout about and, believe me, lots of people often asked: “What has gone wrong with the game in Scotland?” But, over the last 12 months or so, it has been onwards and upwards and it really is terrific to hear Scottish players earning so much praise at the moment.
You could just sense the pride in Sam Torrance’s voice in his commentary for Sky Sports on the last day in Denmark as he watched MacIntyre rise to the challenge as he went toe-to-toe with Wiesberger, with his colleagues clearly being equally impressed by the young Scot.
No wonder and you get the feeling this is just the start of an exciting journey.