Bob MacIntyre believes it is “time to push on” after quickly finding his feet on the European Tour by making eight cuts in a row and nine in ten starts in his rookie season.
The 22-year-old from Oban is among seven Scots in the field for this week’s Magical Kenya Open at Karen Country Club in Nairobi as the event is staged on the European Tour for the first time.
In recent seasons, it has often been the curtain-raiser on the Challenge Tour while it was previously part of the Safari Tour, producing wins at that time for Brian Barnes (1981), Ken Brown (1983), Garry Harvey (1985), Craig Maltman (1993) and Mike Miller (1996).
MacIntyre is aiming to put the Saltire on the leaderboard on this occasion by maintaining the consistent run of form that has helped him develop a useful knack of being around at the weekend when Race to Dubai points are secured.
“The season has been very consistent, which is good as I am always picking up points,” admitted the left-hander, who sits 58th in the rankings. “It’s let me find my feet, but now it’s time to push on and try finish higher up leaderboards.”
That was reference to him probably being slightly disappointed that his best finish so far has been tied for 15th in both the South African Open the Alfred Dunhill Championship.
“I’m feeling good coming into this week after a solid week in Qatar,” added the former Scottish Amateur champion, who has earned close to £90,000 so far this season afrer graduating from the Challenge Tour last year along with Grant Forrest, Liam Johnston and David Law.
“I’m hoping to keep the momentum going and hopefully I can hole a few more putts and really challenge this week. It’s been a long run. This is my ninth week away from home, so I am looking forward to a break. But a top-five finish this week and I’d get into Malaysia, so I’m aiming to play some good golf and see where we end up.”
Johnston is also in the field, as are Connor Syme as he makes his first start since producing a strong display in the ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth, Calum Hill, Ewen Ferguson, Duncan Stewart and Craig Ross.
For Hill, it’s his first competitive outing since the European Tour Qualifying School final in November, having wintered in the US as he gears up for the start of the new Challenge Tour campaign next month.
“I can’t wait to get going again after an encouraging run of results in the second half of the 2018 season,” said Hill, who made the cut after qualifying for the US Open at Shinnecock Hills last year. “My first event wasn’t until late July after I’d come home from the States and my main goal was to gain status on a circuit for this year.
“To have achieved that without having to rely on getting a card through the Qualifying School was great, as, of course, was the fact I won on the Challenge Tour in just my fifth start on the circuit in the Northern Ireland Open at Galgorm Resort.
“That success sparked a great run of form as I chalked up two more top 10s and didn’t finish outside the top 30 in my final seven events of the season.
“I think the most obvious goal for me in 2019 is to try and follow in the footsteps of Grant , Liam, Bob and David after they all graduated to the main tour off the Challenge Tour last season.
“While out in the States, I was keeping an eye on how the new Scottish card holders on the European Tour have been getting on and what a fantastic win for David Law in the ISPS Handa Vic Open.
“It was a brilliant performance further, highlighting the Scottish momentum happening right now on tour. Seeing how well the Scottish Challenge Tour graduates are doing on the main tour definitely spurs you on. If they can compete and contend, they why can’t the rest of us too.”
Also in the line up is South African Justin Harding, who is aiming to boost his hopes of securing a spot in The Masters by making it back-to-back wins after his triumph in Qatar last Sunday, as well 2018 Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjørn, who won £4,700 for finishing joint second in this event 24 years ago.
“I always felt like I wanted to come back, but it never really happened,” said the Dane. “Now there was an opportunity and I’m glad to be here. I’m looking forward to the week.”