Bob MacIntyre is about to embark on his first meaningful stint on the PGA Tour. He tells Barry Plummer about his Augusta ambitions, his new friend Patrick Reed, and the one player he’s desperate to play alongside
The WGC-Workday Championship marks the start of a US roadtrip for Robert MacIntyre – with a Masters debut the pot of gold at the end. Or, as he calls it, “a by-product of playing good golf.”
Following his fourth World Golf Championships appearance, MacIntyre will head two hours north for the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill before the long drive up Florida’s Atlantic coast to TPC Sawgrass.
After that it’s a week off before the WGC-Dell Match Play in Texas and then back east to Augusta. Provided he stays in the top 50 in the world, of course.
The Scot, though, is playing it cool.
“It is something that I can’t worry about,” he tells NCG. “If I’m coming down the stretch on a Sunday, and I know that a top 10 secures a Masters spot, I need to be trying to win a golf tournament. It is not just about the Masters spot, but the bigger picture too.
“There is so much more to gain than just playing at the Masters. There are so many more opportunities, and if I just play good golf it will take care of itself.
“I’ve felt comfortable on the European Tour for over a year now, and although it is a step up, it’s about trying to feel like you belong. I know a lot of the guys out there now, and I feel comfortable with most of them, but there is still the odd person that I could get drawn with and be a bit starstruck. That is all part of golf, until I get over that line and play with these guys it will feel the same way.”
One player he certainly isn’t starstruck by is Patrick Reed, who MacIntyre considers a friend. And Reed doesn’t have many of those.
“I get on great with him,” MacIntyre says. “I’ve played quite a few times in tournaments with him.
“He is someone that I feel I can go to and ask for advice, and he would openly sit down and talk to me, which is a great thing to have from someone who has achieved so much in the game.
“It is huge to get his insight of what I can do to improve.”
Reed is the defending champion at the WGC-Workday Championship – albeit on a different course in a different country and with a different name – and MacIntyre is hoping to spend some more time off the course with the 2018 Masters champion.
The pair last enjoyed each other’s company at the Saudi International – days after Reed’s controversial win at Torrey Pines and MacIntyre had finished third in Dubai.
“It was just me and him on the range in Saudi,” MacIntyre explains. “He chipped his ball about 40 yards up the range to me.
Obviously he had just won, and I had just missed out. He gave me a bit of advice there to try and help me with certain things.
“I told him that his chipping is unbelievable. He said, ‘These hands are magic!’ I just started laughing at him. He is one of the best on the planet at short game.”
There is one player, however, MacIntyre is eager to tee up alongside – Phil Mickelson, who the 24-year-old recently overtook to become the highest-placed left-hander in the world.
“I thought I would have had the chance by now, with Phil playing a few European Tour events, but it has not happened,” MacIntyre sighs. “Although I feel it would be a step up, and a bit surreal, when I step back from it he is just another guy marking my scorecard who happens to swing the golf club the same way that I do.”
So does playing in the US add any extra pressure?
“The feeling is exactly the same,” he explains. “Whether it’s a junior tour event, the Scottish Amateur, the Challenge Tour, the European Tour, or a WGC – you still get first tee nerves.
“When I was young a junior tour event meant the world, the Scottish Amateur meant everything, and the British Amateur meant everything. On the Challenge Tour, when you are getting close to winning, and you are fighting, you feel like you are at the top of your game.
“It is just little steps. The feeling and the level of intensity doesn’t change, it is just the standard and my level that has gone up.”