Why Bob MacIntyre is fast becoming a national treasure, if not one already

The “teuchter” is a thoroughbred and fast becoming a national treasure, if not one already. The golfing fraternity in Scotland already knew Bob MacIntyre was a bit special and now the whole of the country knows exactly why.

Bob MacIntyre plays his shot from the 12th tee during the second round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. He birdied that hole in the closing circuit. Picture: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images.

Make no mistake, the 24-year-old’s performance on his Masters debut was absolutely phenomenal and no wonder he’s already excited about being back next April and years to come after that because, on this evidence, MacIntyre has a genuine chance of joining Sandy Lyle in becoming the owner of a Green Jacket down the road.

Yes, winning majors in this game is bloody hard, as none other than Colin Montgomerie will testify and fellow multiple European Tour No 1 Lee Westwood as well, but MacIntyre used his first trip up Augusta National’s Magnolia Lane to underline his potential as a superstar.

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He’d already shown what he was capable of on one of the game’s biggest stages by tying for sixth on his debut in The Open at Royal Portrush in 2019, but there was something about this effort that was even more special.

Whereas MacIntyre had played at Portrush a number of times in his amateur days and had a feeling in advance that he could do well there, his only experience of the Georgia venue before last week was playing it on computer games with his pals.

There’s a reason why Fuzzy Zoeller back in 1979 is the last player to win the Masters as a debutant, and that is because it is one of those courses you really need to play a good few times before even starting to think you’ve found your feet.

MacIntyre, though, hit that manicured turf running along with fellow first-timer Will Zalatoris and what a thrilling ride they gave their respective supporters over four days in the event’s 85th edition.

It’s been evident for a while that MacIntyre is made of stern stuff and, time and time again last week, he underlined that point on a golf course where things can go awry very quickly due to it setting a test that is mentally exhausting.

It could have been curtains for the left-hander for Oban in terms of being around for the weekend after he made four straight bogeys around the turn in his opening round, but he dug deep down in Amen Corner and ended that circuit positively.

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Over the next couple of days, it was tremendous stuff as he mixed birdies – his haul of 21 was the most by any player in the field – with bogeys, as well as making some terrific pars with a string of two putts from long range, giving the impression he’d been playing there for years as he found the right spots on greens and then negotiated the humps and bumps on them brilliantly.

The longest he went over the four days without making a birdie was an eight-hole stretch that started on the 18th in the penultimate round then continued during a testing start for him in the final round, which could have hit crisis point when he three-putted from around seven feet at the short sixth to run up a double bogey.

Not a chance when you’ve got an attitude like this young man, who responded sensationally from that setback with three birdies in the next six holes then, after dropping shots at the 16th and 17th, birdied the last to secure the top-12 finish required to be back next April without worrying about whether he’ll still be in the world’s top 50 or not.

MacIntyre jumped one spot to 44th in the rankings on the back of this effort, which, incidentally was worth around £160,000, while he is now sitting eighth on the European points list and tenth on the world one in the battle to make Padraig Harrington’s team for the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in September.

It’s too early to confidently predict if he’ll be making that trip to Wisconsin because a lot of water is still to run under the bridge, but this effort, coupled with topping a group that included a world No 1 Dustin Johnson in the WGC Match Play in Texas a fortnight earlier, will certainly have caught Harrington’s attention.

It’s the way MacIntyre plays the game that excites people. “I hadn’t heard of him until a fortnight ago, but I love this kid and he’s a superstar in the making,” said Butch Harmon, the coaching legend, as he added his voice to a chorus of praise for the Scot during the Sky Sports’ coverage of the season’s opening major.

If that is the case, and strap yourself in because it’s going to be an exciting ride over the coming months and years as that “teuchter” bids to continue doing himself and Scotland proud, well, it couldn’t happen to a nicer young man and a nicer family.

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