For a brief moment, in the walk from the 13th green to the 14th tee, all things seemed possible for Robert MacIntyre.
The 24-year-old Scot had moved to eight-under, within three of the lead at the time, after successive birdies at the 12th and 13th. A birdie – or better – on the long 14th might be a life-changing thing for the Oban left-hander.
A snap hook over the out of bounds fence brought him back down to earth quickly, but despite fury at himself, he didn’t “explode” and perspective took over pretty quickly. A second top ten finish in two Opens – he was 6th at Portrush two years ago, tied 8th this time – is not remotely shabby.
‘I got punished for it’
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) July 18, 2021
“We always talk about it, you have to be fully committed to the shot,” he said. “If you are, then if you hit a bad one it’s just a bad golf swing.
“But at 14 I wasn’t committed to the shot and I got punished for it.”
MacIntyre did well to rally for a bogey six – “I stopped myself from exploding” – and finished with four pars, seeing a potentially restorative birdie putt after a fine approach to the last just slide by the hole.
“If that was the bad shot for the week, I would have taken it,” he said. “I was still in there, you never know what the leaders will do. All I was trying to do was go forward, keep going forward.
“Mike (Thomson, his caddie) did a good job, I managed to get over the burn in 4 so I could get back to somewhat normal, try to minimise the mistake.
“As much as it stalled the momentum, I gained momentum. It would have been a disaster to make double bogey there. I hung in and got rewarded.”
‘I’ve got the game to win an Open’
The final round 67 and a top ten finish means MacIntyre’s already back next year at St Andrews. He’s craving a place in the final groups to test his mettle.
“I want to win one of these,” he said. “I feel I’ve got the game to win an Open. I’m yet to show it, but I’m young and I’ve got plenty time.
“There’s a lot I can learn. There’s a lot of golf courses I’m going to enjoy when I get to them again. I just have to keep doing what I’m doing.”
This was not the same as 2019’s final round, he added. He felt his long game was actually at its worst of the week.
“I was having to fight for everything I had,” he said. “I wasn’t in control of what I was doing as much as the first three days.
“But I was managing to miss in the right spots and I got some lucky breaks in the rough. You need that to keep the score going.
“My face doesn’t show it yet, but once this week’s over I’ll be absolutely delighted with the result.”
‘My base is Oban, it always will be’
MacIntyre will now move back to the US to play in next week’s 3M Open in Minnesota, chasing a PGA Tour card.
“I’ll was playing next week no matter what,” he said. “Then I don’t know what I do, whether I come home and go back out to Memphis (for the WGC FedEx St Jude), or just stay out there.
“I’ve not got the full playing rights in the US, yet so my base is Oban, it always will be. When the time’s right I’ll get a place out there, but I’m not in a rush.”