It sometimes takes him a moment to remember, but Robert MacIntyre is miles ahead of where he thought he’d be at this point in his career.
The Scot goes into this week’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth still with a chance of making Padraig Harrington’s European Ryder Cup team. He’s also likely to finish the season in the world’s top 50.
But getting caught up in all of that, and his performances at the Masters and The Open, needs perspective. Mostly recalling what his goals were when he was starting out as a professional just three years ago.
‘It’s been a snowball’
“When I turned pro, I had set out a plan that I hoped to be on the European Tour within four years,” he said. “First year on the Challenge Tour was to find my feet, second year was to push for a Top 15 card and then third year to get it.
“I did it all in one and it’s been a snowball since then.
“It’s now really good for going forward. I have two guaranteed Majors for next year, almost three.
“I am playing at the top end of world golf. I’m in absolutely the perfect position for where I thought I would be.
“I didn’t think I’d be in this position so quickly, but you have to fight against the people in front of you. Right now that is in front of the best. That’s where I want to be.”
‘I’m too hard on myself, 100%’
Can’t. Stop. Watching. 😍
— TaylorMadeGolfEurope (@TaylorMadeTour) July 6, 2021
Having all this within reach has caused MacIntyre to sometimes be impatient, quite naturally. But the ability to switch off and come home to Oban to be with his friends and family has never been more important.
“I had seven or eight weeks with just one off,” he said. “It’s been the Scottish and The Open to events in America, back home for a second vaccine, back out to America.
“It was a helluva lot of travel and there’s only so much one body can take. I’m too hard on myself, 100%. But I know that’s when I have to take a step back.
“Go back to the Oban air and sunshine and just be a 25-year-old guy again. Instead of trying to be a 35-year-old with a mindset on the course.”
‘When they are there, I play my best’
And having his supportive family and entourage with him this week should make all the difference, he feels.
“That’s been the toughest thing about the States,” he explained. Usually I’d have someone out with me but because of the restrictions that wasn’t allowed.
“Everyone knows that family means a lot to me and they will be at Wentworth. That’s where I play my best. Masters, Opens, whenever they are there, I play my best.
“That’s because when I go away from the course, I’m back being a son rather than being the boss!
“There’s nothing better than, for instance, seeing my sister’s wee one smiling when I come off the course. It just makes you realise that playing golf for a few weeks is not the be-all-and-end-all.”
This week is a big test around the West Course with so much at stake, but he feels ready.
‘It’s about taking baby steps’
— BMW PGA Championship (@BMWPGA) September 5, 2021
“There are a couple of things I need to improve in terms of self discipline,” he said. “Wentworth is a golf course that is not a walkover. You need to play good golf and that suits my game.
“I’m not putting any pressure on myself this week. I know what I’m capable of and what not.
“I just need to play well and if I do that, I’ll be thereabouts come Sunday.
“It’s about getting into contention again and back into having a chance to win. It’s not easy to do and the field is strong, but I don’t put pressure on myself.
“If I win, I’m in The Ryder Cup. It’s that simple. But I’m not going in thinking that if I bogey the first hole that it’s over because it won’t be.
“There’s 72 holes to do it and it’s about taking baby steps and picking things off one by one.”