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Stephen Gallacher: Bob MacIntyre’s withdrawal from Irish Open a reminder we cannot be complacent about Covid

Bob MacIntyre.
Bob MacIntyre.

It feels as if it is weekly occurrence but yet again I find myself feeling sorry for a fellow professional after Bob MacIntyre was forced to withdraw from the Irish Open this week due to a Covid scare.

Bob is isolating as a precaution after being identified by track and trace following his trip back to Scotland from the US Open.

It’s a sore one for Bob and yet another reminder, as if we needed any by this point, of how easily plans and preparations can go right out the window.

Having played in Munich last week at the BMW International Open I took the option of taking the chartered flight to Ireland with some of the other guys who are also playing here this week and I know another one is planned for those going on to the Scottish Open next week and again for the Open a week later.

We know by taking an exit test after a tournament then boarding a flight with others who have also taken the test we are effectively protecting ourselves as best as we can.

It is important to be extra vigilant at this time of the season when we are hopping from one country to another on a weekly basis.

There is always a chance, even when being cautious, that a positive test for one of the passengers on the flight would have major ramifications but I believe it is our best way of limiting the effects of track and trace which would be increased had we flown on a regular flight.

When I look at Jon Rahm’s withdrawal from The Memorial after the third round and the situation poor Bob has faced this week it makes me all the more surprised at the PGA Tour’s decision to discontinue asymptomatic pre-tournament testing at the 3M Open on July 22.

That’s a bold move to make at this stage and one I’d be surprised to see replicated on the European Tour anytime soon.

It’s disappointing to see Bob miss out on playing at Mount Juliet Estate this week as the course is fantastic.

It’s my first visit here but I feel like I know it having watched Sam Torrance win here in 1995. The weather is nice, the greens are lovely and the Irish lads Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry, Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell are all here so I know it is going to be a thriller.

GMac faces competition for Ryder Cup captaincy

Graeme McDowell.

Talking of GMac I’m not surprised he has chucked his hat in the ring for the European captaincy at the 2027 Ryder Cup at Adare Manor.

There are a lot of guys in the frame though and they can’t all get the job.

In the next 10 years I expect to see the likes of Justin Rose, Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson, Luke Donald, Martin Kaymer and Lee Westwood all vying with Graeme for that opportunity and some of them are going to be left disappointed.

Every name I’ve mentioned is captain material and it is clear we now have a template firmly in place when it comes to choosing our captains.

You must have Ryder Cup experience as a player and vice-captain on your CV before you will even be considered but the good news is that there are plenty of opportunities to be a vice-captain.

We look to have settled on having five vice-captains every couple of years. With four pairs matches taking place one vice-captain is out with each pairing while one stays behind to make sure those not playing are in good spirits and focused.

The list of potential future captains is a long one but what we don’t know is whether all the guys I’ve mentioned fancy taking on the role in the future. If they all do then deciding who is most deserving will not be an easy task.

Hovland heading for Harrington’s Ryder Cup team

Viktor Hovland.

Staying on a Ryder Cup theme Padraig Harrington must be absolutely thrilled by the year Viktor Hovland is having.

A two-time PGA Tour winner, Hovland recorded his first European Tour win on Sunday in Germany at the International Open in what was his seventh top-10 finish of the year.

If he hasn’t done already he must be pretty close to cementing his name as an automatic place in Padraig’s team for September and having a guy who is performing well in the United States and in Europe will be music to the captain’s ears.

I don’t know if it is the innocence of youth or if he is simply fearless but whenever I watch Hovland play he never shows the slightest bout of nerves.

A quick, aggressive player, he may be one of the new kids on the block but it is clear the 23 year-old from Oslo is destined for great things.