Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre says his halved match with Dustin Johnson has taught him he “can compete with the best guys on the planet”.
The 24-year-old put on an impressive performance to tie his match with world number Dustin Johnson at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.
MacIntyre, who beat Kevin Na in his opening match at Austin Country Club, had been two-up with three holes to play, but Johnson’s unerring approach play and putting over the final stretch saw him fight back and almost snatch victory.
Nevertheless, the impressive performance from Oban’s MacIntyre, who goes into today’s final group match with Adam Long level on one-and-a-half points with Johnson in group 1, won’t go unnoticed by European captain Padraig Harrington ahead of the Ryder Cup later this year.
Afterwards, MacIntyre said: “He holed putts when he had to hole putts.
“He does that to win numerous majors. I’m young.
“I’ve got plenty of time ahead of me. Obviously, I was dying to win that match. I was in such a great position to do it. But he threw everything at me, and I can be proud of finishing all square.
“Obviously, inside, I’m a little disappointed not to win.
“But once we walk away from here and get in the car and drive back to the house, it’s going to be, you know what, I can compete with the best guys on the planet.”
How it played out
Johnson made the first gain of the match with a birdie at the first, but a par was enough for MacIntyre to level at the second.
Another birdie from Johnson at the third put the American back in front, but MacIntyre reached the turn all square after a birdie at the ninth.
The match was swinging in MacIntyre’s favour at this point and he rolled in a 22-foot putt on the 10th to go one up on the Masters champion.
And the 24-year-old won his third hole in a row to go two up on the American thanks to a two-putt par on the par-three 11th.
Johnson found the water off the tee, but was inches away from holing his third from the drop zone.
However, the American stopped the rot at the 12th with a birdie four to reduce the deficit.
MacIntyre struck back and regained his two-hole advantage by winning the 14th with a birdie three.
The players halved the par-four 15th, before MacIntyre found the rough off the tee on 16, then pulled his lengthy approach left of the green. A birdie from this position proved too difficult, despite a good pitch, and would’ve been in vain anyway, with Johnson flawless in holing for an eagle three.
Johnson would make another good-length putt for birdie on the par-three 17th after a solid tee shot and, when MacIntyre failed with his own birdie attempt by a hair’s breadth – his putt missing right – the Masters champion had levelled the match.
On the final hole, both players had 23-foot putts for birdie, with neither able to make them.