Robert MacIntyre is somewhat surprised he’s not feeling the night-before nerves as he prepares for his first Masters, the culmination of his childhood dream.
Safely ensconced in Augusta and having scouted the course thoroughly over three days – taking in advice from the likes of 2018 champion Patrick Reed – the Scot thought he’d be more uptight.
“I’m not feeling nervous at all right now,” he said. “I thought I would be more uptight by now and I’m sure when I step onto the first tee I’m sure to be nervous, maybe a little bit extra.
“But right now I’m here to play golf. It’s my job and what I do every day, so maybe that’s why there are no nerves right now.”
And he’s not even been pinching himself at the fulfilment of his dream, either. The 24-year-old lefty knows he’s here entirely on merit.
“This is a golf tournament and a golf course I’ve always wanted to play and I am taking everything in, day in, day out,” he said.
“Driving down Magnolia for the first time was brilliant. It’s a little boy’s dream and I finally got the chance to live it.
— P&J Sport (@PandJSport) April 6, 2021
“Playing the course felt unbelievable. I like the look of it, the definition and you can see shots, which is massive for me because I like to see the shot shape that’s required here.
“But I’ve not been pinching myself. At the end of the day, I have worked hard to get here. It’s not as though I’ve just woke up and got lucky.
“It’s part of the job. I’m lucky to be here and it’s special, but I work my ass off every time I am practising. It’s not by luck, it’s by hard work.
“You never know what’s going to happen so I’m taking it all in. This could possibly be only time, though hopefully not. But I’m human so anything can happen. So I’m just enjoying every bit of it.”
Bob’s prep has been playing each of the nines in full, but spending more time wandering with a putter and a couple of wedges trying to get the nuances of the rolling Augusta National greens.
“I’m doing a lot of work around the greens trying to visualise and see the slopes. I am trying to learn as fast as I can, because if you don’t you have no chance. You can be hitting down a serious slope that has a wooden floor if you get out of position from the tee and it’s not going to stop.”
As a result, the score will be “seriously lower” than November’s 20-under, he believes.
“It was a lot softer a few months ago and the ball was spinning back. Patrick (Reed) was telling me it was a lot softer.
“You’re not stopping anything on these greens unless it’s a wedge. If you’re coming in to the green with a long club, the ball just ain’t stopping.
“If you hit a bad tee shot, it’s about trying to get it back in position. There’s no way you are going to go for a risky shot because if you do that and get in position Z, you are walking away with doubles and triples because of how quick the greens are.”
But he does think that for a left-hander with a fade, Augusta is “absolutely perfect”.
“You’ve still got to hit the shots and still got to hole the putts,” he said. “It suits a left-hander visually, but it’s the man who hits the least bad shots that is probably going to win this week due to how firm the greens are.
“But I would say yes, as long as you’re a lefty who can fade it. Two could be favourable. The 10th tee shot, you could get it further down as it’s a sharp dogleg and you can cut that as much as you want.
“Ten and 12 I’d say are advantages, but if you don’t hit a good shot, you’ll still be in trouble.”
Mum Carol and dad Dougie are both out for Robert’s debut at Augusta, and he’ll intends to wear a black ribbon in honour of his friend and sportswriter Jock MacVicar, a fellow man of Argyll, who died at the weekend.
“When Jock phoned, we’d speak for 10 minutes before we even got on to an interview just with chitter-chatter,” he said.
“It was sad to hear of his passing and when someone close to me like that passes away, it’s part of what I do. It’s a mark of respect.”