Robert MacIntyre’s preparation for this week’s abrdn Scottish Open was disrupted by a Covid-19 track and trace but he can’t wait to get back in front of home support at last.
The left-hander had planned to play in Ireland last week but had to isolate for four days at home in Oban after he was traced to a Covid-19 case, most likely on a flight back from the US Open in California two weeks ago.
There was nothing to do but practice at home – “some indoor putting, but the beach was too busy to hit balls off the balcony” he joked – and wait it out.
‘I think I’ve been track and traced’
We all know you have to respect the rules at the moment and wish whoever tested positive a safe a speedy recovery 🙏
— Robert MacIntyre (@robert1lefty) June 28, 2021
“It was perfect timing,” he said ruefully after arriving at The Renaissance in East Lothian, where heavy rains have dampened the course.
“Sunday night five o’clock before going to Ireland. I called my manager and said “I think I’ve been track and traced’. I then called (caddie) Mike (Thomson) and he just said `Yep’ before I could say anything. He’d had the same text.
“We just had to take it on the chin. It had to have been on the flight, at home I don’t move from the golf course, my house, my family and nobody had tested positive.”
“I was obviously disappointing not to play last week, it would have been a good warm-up, but it wasn’t to be. But I have to take no risks now. Once you have a bit of bad luck you’re always on your guard.
“I’ll not be around anyone now, just my family and my team. I’ll drive down myself next week (to the Open).
‘With big events coming, I’m not risking anything’
“If my friends are inviting me out to dinner right now, I have to say no. With big events coming, I’m not risking what I can gain from my job, just to have a meal out. I have people round for a meal, I’m not the best cook, but it’s hard to burn a steak!”
MacIntyre tried to use the unexpected down time well – Jon Rahm didn’t do too badly after being forced out with a Covid-19 infection, winning the US Open. Robert took it the same way.
“After the text I thought, `there’s nothing we can do here, so we should just get on with it’,” he said. “My expectations coming here anyway are zero – I’m just try to play golf and enjoy myself.
“I have my standards, obviously, I’m trying to win the golf tournament. But I take what I’m given, I put in the work, and whatever hits you, hits you.
“What you guys or the fans put on me, I’m not worried. I’m one of the best at chilling out, I can do it for months not just days or hours, when things are going well or not so well.”
‘There’s shouldn’t be many against you this week!’
The return of the limited numbers of fans to golf in Scotland – the first time since the 2019 Dunhill – is something he’s particularly looking forward to.
“I think this will be the first event I’ve played in Europe with fans present since Qatar what seems like years ago,” he said. “It’s great to have it in Scotland, because there shouldn’t be many against you this week!
“The majority are going to support you and help you find golf balls. The Scottish Open no matter what’s going on is always great for us. I’ve been off for two weeks but we’re prepared as well as we can.”
‘It’s a really good combination’
It was this event last year when MacIntyre first linked up with Lundin caddie Thomson. The pair have formed a close partnership that’s everything Bob could have hoped for.
“Other than him moaning he’s got to carry the umbrella rain or shine, it’s been brilliant,” said Bob. “He’s brought a lot of maturity, not just to my golf but also to me as a person.
“I’m a moaner on a golf course! I’m Scottish so I’m always muttering stuff to myself and he just blanks it. It doesn’t bother him, he’s thick skinned.
“We get on great and it’s been a good partnership. He’s doing the right things. Not just being there on the course and the range, we’ve got as good a relationship off the course.
“If something’s not so well off the course, I’ll speak to him, and vice versa. It’s a really good combination, I think.”
In honour of Jock the legend
— abrdn Scottish Open (@ScottishOpen) July 5, 2021
MacIntyre will play with Collin Morikawa and Lee Westwood in the first two rounds. He’ll also be competing for a new prize, the Jock MacVicar AGW Memorial Trophy.
The trophy has been donated by the European Tour in conjunction with the Association of Golf Writers to honour the memory of Jock, who was in his sixth decade as the golf correspondent of the Scottish Daily Express when he died in March at the age of 83.
The top Scottish finisher at the Scottish Open from now on will win the new trophy. Stephen Gallacher, who like most Scottish players knew and respected Jock from their junior days, said it was “a great touch”.
“Jock was a legend and always enjoyed watching players progress in their careers from the very start,” he said.
“I know the Scottish Open was always one of his favourite events of the year. Well done to the European Tour for commissioning this new trophy on behalf of the AGW.”
A similar trophy in Jock’s honour for the best Scottish finisher is also to be introduced at the Women’s Scottish Open in August.