Bob MacIntyre went from not wanting to be playing golf in May to being crowned as the European Tour Rookie of the Year seven months later thanks to a bus journey back from a shinty game making him “realise what life is all about”.
It was mission accomplished for the 23-year-old from Oban in the final round of the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai as he signed off with a three-under-par 69 to finish joint-14th with a six-under 282 total.
The polished performance on the Greg Norman-designed Earth Course secured 11th spot for MacIntyre in the Race to Dubai, finishing three places above American Kurt Kitayama, his main rival, in the battle for the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year title.
The left-hander is the first Scot to claim the prize since Marc Warren in 2006, the tenth to do the trick since the European Tour was formed in 1972 and 12th since the award was introduced in 1960.
“I’m absolutely delighted,” said MacIntyre after being presented with both the Sir Henry Cotton salver and the Challenge Tour Graduate of the Year Trophy by European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley.
“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 putt in two good rounds this week (he had effectively killed off Katayama’s chances by carding a 68 on Saturday) to seal it off.”
In picking up a cheque for €76,408, MacIntyre took his season’s earnings through the €2 million mark, having chalked up seven top-10 finishes, one of which came in his major debut in the Open Championship at Royal Portrush.
The first of three second-place finishes was in the British Masters at Hillside, with MacIntyre picking out the week prior to that event as the turning point in his campaign.
“After missing the cut in Morocco, I wasn’t enjoying golf and everyone on my team knew I wasn’t enjoying golf. So I pulled out of the China event on the Friday prior to it.
“I took the week off, went and played some shinty, and then that made me realise what life was about. It was an away game on the bus with the boys enjoying ourselves and made me realise that the job I’m doing isn’t a job.
“You’re doing it because you enjoy it, and that’s the mindset I’ve had for the last 17 events and has made me realise, don’t find it a chore. Go and enjoy it every week, every day, and that’s what I’ve done. Here we are.”
Playing alongside Olympic champion Justin Rose, MacIntyre holed a testing par putt at the first before reeling off four birdies in the next six holes.
He was disappointed to drop his only shot of the round after seeing his approach overshoot the green at the 16th and find water but, overall, it was a good day’s work once again.
“Yesterday I thought, right, the job’s almost done, but I had to go out and still play a good round of golf,” he reflected.
“It was a bit disappointing to finish the way I did. The one on 16, I hit a great shot and expected it to land six feet from the hole. We just misjudged the wind.
“But that’s out of the way. That’s done and now I’m absolutely delighted to win both these awards.”