Tommy Fleetwood, the world No 10, is rooting for Bob MacIntyre to be crowned as European Tour Rookie of the Year in Dubai this weekend, claiming the “Class of 2019” is the best standard of newcomers he has seen on the circuit.
On the back of seven top-ten finishes this season, MacIntyre is on course to become the first Scot since Marc Warren in 2006 to claim the title, sitting a spot above his main rival, American Kurt Kitayama, in the Race to Dubai rankings heading into the DP World Tour Championship starting tomorrow at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
Illustrating how well both players have performed as first-timers on the main tour, the duo lie 11th and 12th respectively, MacIntyre having racked up earnings of close to €1.95 million while Kitayama, a double winner, has amassed more than €1.7 million.
The award, which carries Sir Henry Cotton’s name, goes to the highest-placed player in the standings at the end of the season, and with a whopping €2.7m top prize up for grabs in the UAE, Spaniard Adri Arnaus (37th) and Italian Guido Migliozzi (40th) are also still in the reckoning.
Fleetwood has a job of his own to focus on this week as he bids to win the Race to Dubai for the second time in three years, but, at the same time, the Englishman will be keeping an eye on the Rookie of the Year battle, especially due to MacIntyre’s involvement.
He liked what he saw in the left-hander when they played together in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship back in January, saying “he is probably better than I was at 22”, and he was gushing about him again when offering his thoughts on what MacIntyre has achieved since then. “Yeah, he was impressive,” recalled the newly-crowned Nedbank Challenge champion. “I think that I said at the time, the thing that impressed me the most was how well he understood his game and knew his game. I think he has a very good mindset for a young kid.
“I’ve been lucky enough to spend a bit of time with him this year. I played with him at the British Masters when he very nearly won and he was impressive, and I just think he’s had an amazing year of consistency, really, for a rookie.
“He’s done it all. He’s not done it by just performing in one big event and finding yourself up there. He’s done it consistently. I love his attitude and I think he’s got a very good self-focus and he knows exactly what he wants to do and how he wants to go about each event and how he wants to play his game and he hasn’t gotten lost his first year on Tour. There’s so many things he should be proud of.”
Fleetwood, who finished 109th on the money list in his first full season on the circuit in 2012, but has gone on to rack up five European Tour victories, added: “I personally would love him to win Rookie of the Year, so I hope he does very, very well, and you know, all he has to do is keep doing what he’s doing. I think his weekend last week (when MacIntyre closed with rounds of 65 and 68 to finish joint eighth behind Fleetwood at Sun City) was so impressive.
“If I could give him any advice for this week, it would be just to stay very present and do what he’s been doing all year. He’s played enough good golf to keep it going. The players involved in the Rookie of the Year this year have been unbelievable. For as long as I can remember, it’s been the highest standard of rookies.
“He’s been doing it in a tough year of rookies but it’s been impressive. Any time guys come out for the first time and do what the guys like Robert or Kurt have done, it’s very, very impressive, so fair play to them.”
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