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Stephen Gallacher: Why Bob MacIntyre is a nailed-on certainty for the Ryder Cup

Oban golfer's swashbuckling style is just what Europe need against the Americans in Rome.

Bob MacIntyre was magnificent at the Scottish Open. Image: SNS
Bob MacIntyre was magnificent at the Scottish Open. Image: SNS

The debate has been settled as far as I’m concerned – Bob MacIntyre is going to Rome.

He may not have won the Scottish Open but there is little doubt for me Bob will have won over Europe captain Luke Donald at The Renaissance Club.

His performance on Sunday was one which I would call swashbuckling. The biggest compliment I can pay him is that he was the Scottish Seve Ballesteros.

There were shades of Bubba Watson’s fearless style too in a fantastic display and Bob’s all-action style and nerves of steel cemented his place in the Ryder Cup team for me.

I know his runner-up spot put him in the automatic places for qualification but even if he was to slip out of an automatic place at this point I’d be amazed if Luke didn’t use one of his six captain’s picks and put Bob on his team to face the United States.

The way he plays is a joy to watch. He is brave and attacks the course all the time and his short game is terrific.

I don’t know if Bob’s love of shinty has helped with that but he certainly has a deft touch around the green.

He has all the hallmarks and the temperament you would want for match-play and when you add in the fact he won the Italian Open last year at Marco Simone Golf Club, the host venue of this year’s match, you have to pick him.

Barring injury I can’t come up with a single reason why he won’t be in Luke’s team.

Bob was brilliant – but Rory was better

Rory McIlroy reacts after holing his putt to win the Scottish Open on Sunday. Image: SNS

I felt for Bob on Sunday as he deserved to win but unfortunately for him the back nine was where it all clicked for Rory McIlroy.

Rory deserved it too to be fair. If I could name a joint winner of a tournament then these two guys would have been deserving of the accolade.

Bob and I share the same manager in Iain Stoddart and he told me after the event that the probability of Rory managing to birdie 17 and 18 was just four per cent.

To put it into context, only three birdies were recorded at the last on Sunday and the winner and runner-up had two of them when the pressure was really on.

I honestly thought when Bob hit his incredible second shot at 18 and then birdied the hole he had done enough to win or at least take Rory to a play-off.

But I hadn’t reckoned on Rory’s brilliance.

He has been all over the place in the front nine and looked to be slipping out of contention but a brilliant back nine saw him come through in style.

It must have been the weather which affected Rory as I can’t for a second believe he suffers nerves at this point of his incredible career.

But he showed why, when his game comes together, he remains brilliant to watch. An on-form Rory is as graceful a player as you could hope to see.

Will there be a Scottish Open hangover for the Open hopefuls?

It will be interesting to see what effect the intensity of the Scottish Open finale has at Hoylake for the Open this week.

The challenging conditions at The Renaissance Club will have taken a lot of out of the field with those who made the cut left to endure a difficult weekend.

The one saving grace is that, due to the weather, the tournament had an early finish on Sunday which gave the late finishers a chance to get down to Merseyside in good time.

It’s not mission impossible but it is a tall order to go back-to-back at the Scottish Open and the Open.

I’m not surprised Rory McIlroy cancelled his pre-match press conference on Tuesday. It’s one thing facing the media after winning a tournament but the world’s press will be at the Open this week.

If we’ve learned anything of the last 18 months it’s that events off the course, namely LIV Golf, seems to dominate the agenda and I can understand Rory wanting to take a break from it all for a few days at least.

He has enough to think about as the last man to win the Open at the venue and he already knows all eyes will be on him after being drawn with Jon Rahm and Justin Rose in the first two rounds.

The Open is an event which demands your complete focus. For me it remains the toughest major to win because it is so unpredictable.

That same unpredictability is what makes it the best tournament in the world too. It’s a mental and physical test and you also need a bit of luck too.

I touched on this in last week’s column but what’s in your bag is so important for links golf and we saw that on Tuesday when the players practiced in howling wind conditions.

Richie Ramsay is in the first group out and while the ball doesn’t go so far first thing in the morning the chance to get out early and back in to rest up for a later start in the second round is no bad thing.

Matt has the game to win at Hoylake

Matt Fitzpatrick. Image: PA

In the build-up to this week’s event what has struck me was Matt Fitzpatrick’s comments.

He seems determined to play down his prospects after declaring a top-30 finish would be a good week for him.

It’s a surprise to hear one of the best players in the world and a former major winner be so candid.

Either Matt is aiming to keep expectations low or he is genuinely not happy with how he is playing at the moment.

But he is such a good putter that if he starts to roll a few birdie putts in I’ve no doubt any doubts about his form will soon evaporate.

If he gets himself in contention come Sunday then I don’t believe for a second he’ll have a doubt in his mind he can win it.