'There's a few wild ones' - Bob MacIntyre on what has been raising eyebrows this season

Scot holds his own in marquee group with Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland in Genesis Scottish Open

The question had been coming and the smile on Bob MacIntyre’s face suggested he knew that. Eyebrows – and not just in Oban – have been raised about some of the Nike tops the left-hander has been wearing this season and a foliage-print one for the opening round of the Genesis Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club was no different.

Garish was the word that instantly sprung to mind and the 27-year-old didn’t exactly disagree after carding a three-under-par 67 in the company of Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland in one of the morning marquee groups on the East Lothian coast. “There’s a few wild ones,” he said, laughing. “I think this is actually quite tame compared to some of the ones I’ve been wearing already this year, especially the yellow one at the US Open.”

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MacIntyre joked that he’d prefer “my golf did the talking than the shirt” and, in fairness, his opening salvo was a satisfactory effort in the company of world No 3 and defending champion McIlroy and Hovland, last year’s FedEx Cup winner, as they signed for 65 and 67 respectively in favourable scoring conditions. He’s known a small posse of Scottish golf writers long enough, though, that we weren’t finished there on the clothing front.

Sporting his foliage-print shirt, Bob MacIntyre pictured during day one of the Genesis Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club in East Lothian. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.Sporting his foliage-print shirt, Bob MacIntyre pictured during day one of the Genesis Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club in East Lothian. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.
Sporting his foliage-print shirt, Bob MacIntyre pictured during day one of the Genesis Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club in East Lothian. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.

“I pick this week,” said last year’s runner-up as the light-hearted grilling continued. “Next week (for The Open) will be scripted just so me, (fellow Nike player) Rory and all that aren’t wearing the same. I don’t think Rory would pull this one off – and I’m not either (laughing). But I might pull this back out in January if I go to Hawaii (having qualified for the PGA Tour’s season-starting Sentry Championship through his win in the RBC Canadian Open last month).”

MacIntyre was making his first appearance on Scottish soil since landing that career-changing triumph on the US circuit and hats off to those in a huge gallery for showing their appreciation of that feat, though there was no denying that his two playing partners certainly contributed to it growing all the way round and rightly so in this world-class event.

“Aye, and I said it the other day,” replied MacIntyre, who mixed five birdies, including three in a row on his front nine, with two bogeys on a Tom Doak-designed course that is looking better than at any time since it first staged the tournament back in 2019. “They are here to watch me perform. They might get lucky to watch me win, but I’m here to perform and all I can do is control myself.”

Recalling when he was paired with McIlroy and Rickie Fowler in the opening two rounds on his debut, the Scottish No 1 added: “I remember in 2019 that I stood on my first tee – the exact same one as today – and I could hardly get the ball on the tee. Whereas today when I put it on the tee, my hands were calm and I knew exactly what I was doing. This isn’t coming from some magic potion. It’s all from experience. I’m 27 and going to be 28 soon. I’ve got a long career ahead of me and just have to keep learning from everything I do.”

Marquee morning group Rory McIlroy, Bob MacIntyre and Viktor Hovland walk on the 10th hole at The Renaissance Club. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.Marquee morning group Rory McIlroy, Bob MacIntyre and Viktor Hovland walk on the 10th hole at The Renaissance Club. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.
Marquee morning group Rory McIlroy, Bob MacIntyre and Viktor Hovland walk on the 10th hole at The Renaissance Club. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.

With his mum Carol watching on – dad Dougie, who caddied for him in Canada, is due to be there as well later in the week – MacIntyre looked calm from start to finish, vindicating what he’d talked about earlier in the week about how feeling the best he’d ever had in that respect and is the first to admit that he’d occasionally regretted letting himself overheat in the past. “To be honest, it’s the way I have been playing my golf lately and it’s the way I play my best golf,” he said, smiling. “I am happy in life and that’s all you need, really. The game of golf is a job, but, at the end of the day, whether it is good or bad, it’s not going to change me.

“Yes, it might make me work harder at certain points, but I know how good I am and what I can do with a golf ball. It’s just about letting it happen and getting out of my own way and being happier on the golf course and being better within myself, it makes the golf ball do what I want it to do.”

Not, it must be said, at the short 12th on this occasion as his tee shot ended up over the other side of a wall on the adjoining 14th green. “I was between clubs, either a cutty 6 or a hard 7 and thought the hard 7 wasn’t quite getting there so I tried to hit the cutty 6 into 12,” he reported. “You want to be aggressive up the right-hand side as it feeds back in but I pulled it by about five yards and it just went in the wind (over the wall).

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“When the rules official came over, I was praying I was going the way I went as it got me on to a slight upslope and back into the wind. Yeah, the shot was over a wall, but it was fairly easy.” With both Fowler and Adam Scott looking on as they played the 14th, saving par was pleasing, nonetheless, and, after finding the same green again shortly afterwards, he made a nice birdie-2, as did both McIlroy and Hovland.

“When you are out with good players, you know you are focused on your own shots, but they might hit a certain shot into a pin and it makes you go ‘that’s the way I need to play it’,” said MacIntyre. "It actually makes life a bit easier when you are playing with good players and seeing them hit in good shots before you.

“Obviously we got on well. I’ve known Viktor since we were 13 or 14 year old and obviously Rory since I came out here in 2019. Two good guys and I’ve grown a lot closer to them since the Ryder Cup.”

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