Ryder Cup 2023: Luke Donald 'excited' to have Bob MacIntyre on his European team
The 27-year-old Oban man is heading to Rome later in the month after securing an automatic spot in Donald’s team along with Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland, Tyrrell Hatton and Matthew Fitzpatrick. They will be joined in representing Europe at Marco Simone Golf Club by Tommy Fleetwood, Sepp Straka, Justin, Rose, Shane Lowry, Ludvig Aberg and Nicolai Hojgaard after they were all handed a captain’s pick.
Donald is delighted to see MacIntyre become the first Scot since Stephen Gallacher, who played in the 2014 contest at Gleneagles, play in the Ryder Cup after holding off German Yannik Paul and Pole Adrian Meronk to secure the final spot off a European Points list. In the penultimate qualifying event, the D+D Real Czech Masters in Prague, a fortnight ago, MacIntyre found himself in the same group as Donald in the opening two rounds and was going along nicely at Albatross Golf Resort until running up a quadruple-bogey 7 at the 16th hole in the second circuit. That left him in danger of missing the cut but, after finishing par-par to make it through to the weekend, the left-hander closed with two bogey-free six-under-par 66s to finish in the top five.
“Yeah, he earned his spot,” said Donald. “It’s not easy to earn a spot, especially with the criteria I set. There were six picks and only six automatic qualifiers – and he was one of them. Full props to Bob for playing well.” On what had happened in Prague, the former world No 1 added: “He was obviously very cool, calm and in control and then obviously had one bad swing. His third shot from the drop zone wasn’t a bad shot, it just flew ten yards further than he thought it would and he ended up making a quad and, suddenly, he was near the cut line. But he rebounded. He came back strong, being 12 under for the weekend to finish top five. I think that shows the grittiness and determination he had. It wasn’t an easy situation for him. He was the one being chased, that’s a tough place to be. But he extended his lead after that week in the points rather than let people come closer to him because of that weekend’s golf.”
MacIntyre, who was crowned as DP World Tour Rookie of the Year in 2019, got off to a flying start in the year-long qualifying campaign when he won the DS Automobiles Italian Open on the Ryder Cup course on the outskirts of the Italian capital last September. He was then forced to pull out before the second round due to injury when making his title defence at the same venue in May but, a few weeks later, the Scot catapulted himself back into the Ryder Cup reckoning after finishing second behind Rory McIlroy in the Genesis Scottish Open. That brilliant effort – it needed a birdie-birdie finish from McIlroy to deny him – moved him into an automatic spot and it was job done when the five players still in with a chance of pipping him at the post came up shot in the final qualifying event, the Omega European Masters in Switzerland, on Sunday.
“He showed a lot of commitment,” added Donald. “He played in Northern Ireland (having added the ISPS Handa World Invitational to his schedule last month) and then he went to Czech and had a very solid week. He stretched his lead over Yannik and Adrian that week and gave himself a little bit more breathing room. I know that Crans (venue for the Omega European Masters) isn’t a place that he’s not very comfortable in the past, but he grinded out making the cut and still making a few more points. We all saw his grittiness and ability to play great golf at the Scottish Open and other events as well and I am very excited to have him on the team.”
MacIntyre will be among four rookies on the home team in Rome, the others being 151st Open runner-up Straka, former world amateur No 1 and latest DP World Tour winner Aberg and Hojgaard, who emerged with the best statistics in the inaugural Hero Cup in Abu Dhabi earlier this year. “Very exciting,” said Hojgaard of the quartet getting the opportunity to be part of a new era for Europe in the Ryder Cup. “Great group of guys and a lot of talent. A lot of talk about Ludvig, he's a really impressive player, and the same with Bob and Sepp. There's a lot of really good guys coming up. The future is bright for Europe and also this year, I think we have got 12 strong players ready for Rome.”
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