New European Tour member Bob MacIntyre grew up playing shinty

Robert McIntyre, Liam Johnston and Grant Forrest are all looking forward to playing on the European Tour.' Picture: Kenny Smith
Robert McIntyre, Liam Johnston and Grant Forrest are all looking forward to playing on the European Tour.' Picture: Kenny Smith
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He doesn’t own a car, isn’t scared to be different from the pack and still likes a whack now and again with a shinty stick. Bob MacIntyre certainly isn’t your stereotypical professional golfer, but being his own man hasn’t held him back. Far from it, in fact.

The left-hander landed the Scottish Youths, Scottish Boys’ Open Stroke-Play and Scottish Championships as an amateur and now, at just 22, is about to set off from the family home in Oban to begin his rookie season on the European Tour.

The youngest of four Scots to secure cards as graduates from the Challenge Tour this year, MacIntyre makes his debut on the main circuit in the opening tournament on the 2019 schedule in Hong Kong next week before taking in an event in Australia then two in South Africa before the end of the year.

So how is he feeling? Excited or nervous? “A bit of both, really,” replied MacIntyre, speaking in Stirling as he joined Grant Forrest and Liam Johnston, two of the other newcomers to the tartan army on the European Tour, at a get-together organised by the trio’s management company, Edinburgh-based Bounce Sport.

“It’s been a great year and it will sink in next week, especially if I get drawn with someone big, like a Tommy Fleetwood or a Patrick Reed. They are playing next week. You never know. I might play well and get in amongst it. Then you will realise you are here and here on merit.”

MacIntyre, who secured his card by finishing 12th on the Challenge Tour money-list after twice getting into play-offs in the second half of the season, is a proud member of the Glencruitten club on the outskirts of Oban, where he still lives with his parents. “No, never,” he said, smiling, when asked if he was contemplating moving closer to Glasgow to make it a bit easier to get to the airport when he is off globe-trotting over the next 12 months.

“But I need to get myself my own wee car. That’s the first thing as that would take a burden off my mum and dad from travelling up and down to the airport. If I get my car, I can just say, ‘mum, I’m on my way, get my bed made, I’m coming home’.”

Shinty, his other sporting love, is a lure every time he returns to the Argyll town. “My last game was up in Kingussie when I was 17, but I still get the urge,” he admitted. “When I go home I just want to play, but I can’t now. It’s always there, though. I have the sticks in the house. If I want a hit, I’ll stick to the garden.”

Cameron Champ probably felt as though he’d been hammered on the backside by one of MacIntyre’s shinty sticks after the Scot thrashed him 6&4 in the singles on the first day of last year’s Walker Cup in Los Angeles. The pair then halved in a re-match 24 hours later. Also now in the professional ranks, Champ has been tipped for the top after the 23-year-old won the Sanderson Farms Championship in just his second start as a PGA Tour card holder last month.

“I didn’t think he would win on tour as quickly as he has, but he has the length,” observed MacIntyre. “When he is on he will be unstoppable. He’s produced it already. He’ll only get better and he will turn into a major champion, I believe. With a wedge and his driving, he’s hard to compete with.

“When I played him, I had watched him when I got left out in the morning session. I thought I’ll have no chance but, on the first two tee shots, I was within 10 yards of him. I went at one on the third and I hit it 320 and he gave me at least 60 yards. I thought there’s something not right here.

“If he was on that day, he would have beaten me hands down, but luckily I got him on a day when he wasn’t wedging it well. It was a huge lift beating him, especially now for me going into new territory. Seeing what he has done gives you confidence. If I can beat him on my day then I can do it on the tour.”