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Golf: Scotland’s Masters maestro Robert MacIntyre on belief, playing on both sides of the Atlantic and Ryder Cup hopes

Robert MacIntyre, of Scotland, watches his tee shot on the third hole during the second round of the Masters.
Robert MacIntyre, of Scotland, watches his tee shot on the third hole during the second round of the Masters.

Oban’s Robert MacIntyre says he did not feel comfortable or confident in his game until he actually got to the Masters at Augusta.

The 24-year-old had the best Scottish debut on record at Augusta with his tied 12th finish, which was just enough to book a return trip to the tournament next year.

But he admitted that, up until he got to the fabled course, he hadn’t quite felt on top of his game.

“I’m just playing my own golf. I know I can play well out here, I did it at college,” he said.

“It was just a matter of letting it happen. But I’d hadn’t played good golf in the States (in the seven weeks leading up to Augusta). I hadn’t turned up to a tournament thinking I’m hitting the ball well, I’m putting well. Even the Majors I played last year, things weren’t right.

“I was struggling a little here and there and to make the cut, I was walking away from those thinking that’s an achievement to make the cut when not playing good.

“Whereas the last couple of weeks, I’ve started hitting it well. At the Matchplay, I started hitting it well. Back to Sawgrass for a bit of practice and turned up at Augusta with belief.

“It was the first time since coming to the States that I pitched up thinking I’m playing well.”

That certainly showed and, although he admits it was a rollercoaster weekend – he had the most birdies in the field at 21, but plenty of bogeys as well – it has whetted his appetite for playing more in America.

“This is the top end of the game,” he adds. “The last five events I’ve played have been top of the tree events, not just any old golf tournament.

“This is where you want to be. It’s the only way you’ll get better by playing against guys who are better than you and practising with guys who are better.

“It raises your game, you are more alert, you are more aware of what’s going on.”

MacIntyre does, however, miss his beloved Oban and feels a loyalty to the European Tour.

After playing the RBC Heritage in South Carolina this week, it’ll be three weeks at home and then the British Masters at the Belfry.

“If I do get a PGA Tour card – and I’ll need to hit certain targets to achieve that – we are not just going to play there,” he said. “I was raised in Scotland, the European Tour is where my career has moved forward from.

“You never forget where you’re from and you’ll never forget where the opportunities came from. I’ll always play the European Tour. I’d play PGA Tour if I get my card but me and Stoddy (manager Iain Stoddart) talk about ‘the Tommy Fleetwood schedule’. You can play both and compete. That’s what I want to do.”

MacIntyre is also conscious – and proud – of the attention he’s raised back home.

“I was seeing it on social media and stuff,” he said. “People from back home who don’t follow me that much were watching golf and the Masters because I was there.

“It’s gone a bit more wild than I thought it would. I’m just playing a game that I love and I’m thankfully decent at and I’m just getting a chance to compete.

“I’m literally just playing because I enjoy it and can make a living from it.”

MacIntyre’s continued rise naturally starts to bring questions about the Ryder Cup – but he insists he is not even thinking about that right now.

He added: “It’s about taking steps… I want to improve. I want to take that next step, keep moving forward. But I don’t know what’s going to happen and nobody else does. I’ll just let it happen.”

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