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EXCLUSIVE: Robert MacIntyre will solve his Old Course frustrations with patience, says Colin Montgomerie

It took more than a decade before Colin Montgomerie could really prosper at the Old Course.

Robert MacIntyre needs to be patient in his Old Course struggles, believes Colin Montgomerie – it took him 15 years to feel like he “got” St Andrews.

The new Scottish star was frustrated with his performances on the great course at St Andrews in both The Open and the Dunhill Links this year.

Keen to impress in his first Open on home soil, the Oban lefty struggled to control his habitual fade with the prevailing wind at St Andrews.

“Sometimes on these holes, we just don’t know where they go,” he said in July. “It’s horses for courses, and this may just not be one for me now.”

‘I struggled with it at first’

Robert MacIntyre says he has yet to master Old Course despite strong finish to Open Championship

Monty had similar struggles hitting the ball the exact opposite way – a righty fade – for much of his early career, he recalled.

“My first Open there was 1990 and although I made the cut, I didn’t know my way around,” he said. “Nick Faldo won that year, and he’d played it for 10 years.

“I did struggle with it at first. In ‘95 when we won the Dunhill Cup, with Andrew Coltart and Sam Torrance, it was the first time I felt ‘I’m getting to grips with this’.

“As a right-hander fading the ball, I always thought that was wrong for St Andrews. But it’s actually right because you’re going down the right hand side of the course which is the best line into the pins.

“It’s safe if you go left but you can’t attack the pins. It’s always a game of angles at St Andrews.”

‘It takes us all an amount of time to get used to it’

In 2005, Monty had an excellent year at St Andrews.

“10 years later, I had fair success finishing second in The Open to Tiger. Coming back later that year to the Dunhill I won it, scoring 65 in the first round.

“I knew I had ‘got it’ then. But we’re talking 10 to 15 years of playing that course annually, through the Dunhill Cup and the Dunhill Links and four Opens. A decade of getting to know the course and it’s nuances.”

MacIntyre has the skills to “get it” quicker, believes Monty.

“Bob’s still a rookie, really,” he said. “It took me all that time work out where to go, and more importantly, where not to go. So Bob should just be patient and realise that it takes us all that amount of time to get used it.”

Speaking in his role as an ambassador for bunkered magazine’s Golf Breaks, Monty still marvels at the Old Course and how it holds up to modern play.

“We’re talking 150 years since it was played with feathery balls and hickory clubs, and the technology now, it’s amazing,” he said.

“I throught the Old Course would have to have inclement weather for The Open this year. But the weather was reasonable and the scoring wasn’t that crazy.

“Yes, Cameron Smith shot 64 on the last day and holed everything, but it stood up to the test.”

‘They’re good, classic links courses’

Panmure Golf Club at Barry is one of Monty’s favourites.

Monty’s much associated with the great courses of this area like St Andrews, Carnoustie and Gleneagles, but he has some unexpected favourites.

“There’s that stretch down the Angus coast with Montrose, Arbroath, Panmure and Monifieth,” he said. “People touring don’t tend to stop off and play those places but they should. They’re good, classic links courses in so many ways.

“Gleneagles, I’m not that fond of the Ryder Cup course. We played the Senior Open back on the King’s Course this summer. I thought it was a great success.

“I always thought the Ryder Cup in 2014 could have been played between the King’s and the Queen’s, in some composite way. There’s so much more character in both those courses than the Ryder Cup course.”

Monty is still playing a full schedule on the Champions’ Tour in the US, set for 25 of the 28 events set over ten months, starting in Hawai’i in January.

“Right now we’re recharging whatever batteries are left,” he said. “But I look forward to the competition, that’s what drives us on.

“I’ll be 60 in the middle of next year, and as you get older the ‘young’ ones are coming through, Stewart Cink turns 50 this year and he’s winning on the main tour.

“But with Bernhard Langer’s success, why not? He’s four or five years older than me and still winning, so why can’t we.

“He hasn’t changed much at all, and he’s still got that determination and professionalism, that drive and will to win. He’s amazing.

“It means when you feel it’s your week, you’ve got to take it, you can’t sit back. Every birdie you make you still might go backwards. It’s got to be eagles. The standard of golf is phenomenal.”

Colin Montgomerie is ambassador for bunkered Golf Breaks, to discover more of his course recommendations visit bunkeredgolfbreaks.com