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Robert MacIntyre reflects on pain of being unable to visit grandfather during Covid-19 crisis

Robert MacIntyre.
Robert MacIntyre.

Robert MacIntyre has travelled to New York ahead of his US Open debut this week, but the thought of visiting his grandfather in Oban is too risky for him to comprehend.

MacIntyre has returned to America to compete in a second successive major at Winged Foot this week, having finished tied 66th at the PGA Championship at Harding Park last month.

MacIntyre, who comes into this week’s tournament fresh from a 24th finish at the Andalucia Masters at Valderrama in Spain, is growing accustomed to the new Covid-19 restrictions at tournaments, which keep players confined within a bubble.

When back home in Oban however, the notion that he could contract the virus on his travels has resulted in a painful five-month spell without being in the company of his grandfather who he normally visits regularly.

MacIntyre said: “Just now I’m worried about folk coming into the house. I don’t venture out anywhere just now.

“If I catch this thing, it’s not me that’s going to get affected. It’s the knock on effect it’s going to have on older people within my family.

“I have not seen my papa, who I used to go and sit and chat with all the time, for 20 weeks I would say. He’s in his mid-80s, he loves a good chit-chat, but I don’t want to go and risk what’s going on for us to see each other.

“He lives just down the road. Everyone else has been to see him, but I just don’t know what I’m carrying. Obviously I’m getting tested every week for it, but I just don’t feel like it’s the right thing for me to do.

“I can wave to him out the window, but other than that it’s about staying safe. I think the best place for me to stay safe just now is right here in the house in Oban.

“If I took the trophy home I’m sure he would be hanging out the window celebrating with a rum and coke or something like that. We will see what happens.”

MacIntyre will have home comforts in New York this week however, with his mother Carol joining him in order to take charge of the cooking at his accommodation.

The 24-year-old added: “I’ve got my mum coming out and she is going to do the cooking. She understands she might not be able to get in, and she’s totally fine with that.

“She’s trying to keep everything so that when I finish my round I’m not panicking about how we’re getting dinner.

“I’m not the greatest at cooking, while Davie Burns, my coach, can hardly work a microwave let alone cook.

“I’ve been the man to do the cooking at the PGA Championship as well, but my mum is going to be there so the food is going to be good.

“She has a menu prepared and the sticky toffee pudding and bannofee pie is on it. We have it all.”

Winged Foot carries a notoriously challenging reputation, having previously staged the US Open on five previous occasions.

At the tournament in 1974, which was labelled the “Massacre at Winged Foot”, then USGA president Sandy Tatum said “We’re not trying to humiliate the best players in the world. We’re simply trying to identify them.”

MacIntyre has watched highlights of the last tournament held there in 2006, when Colin Montgomerie shot a double bogey at the 18th on the final day to blow a golden opportunity to win his first major, losing out to Geoff Ogilvy.

MacIntyre is relaxed in his approach, adding: “If I play well, I feel I can compete with anyone in the world. I’ve been struggling lately with my game, but I’m starting to see some good signs.

“Last week, two rounds under par at Valderrama shows that I have control with my golf ball and the mental side is also good. Winged Foot is obviously going to be tough, but if I hit the shots I am trying to hit, it’s just a golf course.

“I don’t know too much about Winged Foot. I’ve watched highlights of the 2006 US Open and also seen some flyovers of the holes.

“I’d never seen the video of Monty’s final hole in 2006 until recently. We were talking about it at Valderrama, so I decided to watch it when I got home. I did and watched it all unfold.

“I think it’s pretty simple: if you stay out of the rough, you’ll have a good week.”