US Open: Bob MacIntyre is latest Scot to be stung by Winged Foot’s 18th hole
Another Scot stung by Winged Foot’s finishing hole. Colin Montgomerie’s closing double-bogey 6 may have been way more painful in the 2006 US Open, bearing in mind it cost him his chance to land a major. But this one in the event’s return to the Mamaroneck course, near New York, was also akin to a punch in the guts for Bob MacIntyre.
After making it three cuts in three major starts, MacIntyre had worked his socks off in a troublesome morning breeze to be four-over for the day in the third round. A par up the last and the 24-year-old from Oban would have been a happy chap as he tucked into some of mum Carol’s cooking in a rented home nearby later in the day.
He’d just come off a brilliant birdie at the tough 17th, having almost holed his approach from just over 200 yards from the left rough. Even a bogey to finish would probably have left him feeling satisfied with the day’s work, but not an ugly 6. He was bunkered off the tee, through the back in two and still not on the green in three.
The disappointing finish left MacIntyre, the only Scot still standing in the season’s second major after Connor Syme and Sandy Scott both missed the cut, having to settle for a 76, which left him sitting on 12-over. He’d improved his overnight position, but had been looking for better. “I’m actually playing all right. I’m just not scoring great so far,” he said in a brief interview afterwards.
MacIntyre had opened with rounds of 74-72 to progress to the weekend in his debut in the USGA event. He’d already tied for sixth in last year’s Open at Royal Portrush in his first major appearance before also making the cut in last month’s US PGA Championship at Harding Park in San Francisco. Bearing in mind this is just his second season on the European Tour, he already looks very much at home in the game’s biggest events and tackling some of the toughest tests.
“Brutal. It’s as simple as that,” he said of Winged Foot after covering his last eight holes in one-under on Friday. “Thursday was probably as easy as you’re going to get it. Friday before seeing the course, I thought six-over would make it before I went out. I knew it was going to be tough, and I just had to go and play my game.
“Sometimes when it gets tough, that’s when I start to play my better golf and never give up, and it showed. I got to seven-over and then hit some great shots. Although I’ve not played my best this week, I’ve really enjoyed myself.”
He’s definitely got a kick out of raising some money from a birdie pledge through his efforts so far. He had three in the first round, another three on day two then a couple in this round. That means the running total is $28,000 for the emergency fund at his alma mater, McAneese State University in Louisiana, after the Lake Charles area was badly hit by Hurricane Laura last month.
“Two weeks before I was coming out here, I just decided we were going to do it and got a few folk on board,” he said of an idea that is being supported by his three main sponsors, Orion Group, Aberdeen Standard Investments and Arnold Clark. “I got a few folk on board, my sponsors. Some folk down there in Louisiana, Lake Charles especially, haven’t got much left. It’s all been flattened. For me, I’m just trying to raise as much money as I can and trying to enjoy myself as I do so.”
After starting out seven shots behind halfway leader Patrick Reed, 2011 champion Rory McIlroy re-ignited his title bid with a 68 to move to one-over. “It was really good,” said the four-time major winner of an effort that included three birdies in six holes around the turn. “I executed my gameplan really well and I feel I am right in it.”
The biggest move among the early starters in the third round was made by Swede Alex Noren, the 2016 Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open champion. He started the day alongside MacIntyre on six-over but leapt up the leaderboard with a three-under 67.
“Starting out, it felt like it was going to be the toughest day ever on a golf course, with pretty strong winds on the first like six, seven holes. Then it got a little bit easier, but the pins are still tricked up. I putted my life out,” he said of his thrust.
“Yesterday I was very like angry man on the golf course. I was furious that I didn’t hit the shots that I wanted, and then it kind of affects your game. My goal today was to putt better and be in a little happier place.” It was job done.
Zach Johnson, the 2015 Open champion, matched McIlroy’s effort to sit on two-over, three ahead of Dustin Johnson after the world No 1 had to settle for a 72 following a sluggish start to his day.
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