Rolex Series

The homecoming of Robert MacIntyre 

Thousands of fans will line the fairways at this week’s Genesis Scottish Open, with a large number of those in attendance rooting for Robert MacIntyre.

His career, that of someone who has emerged from a fairly remote part of Scotland’s west coast to gain global recognition, has and continues to garner widespread acclaim.

From a young age, watching Scotland’s national Open was the genesis of his passion for a sport that is helping him realise his lifelong ambitions. Coincidently, last year the event was also the stimulus for generating a well of belief that has helped him realise lifelong goals.

From coming so close to victory on home soil last summer at the Renaissance Club, to experiencing the magic of a Ryder Cup for the first time and most recently the emotions of a maiden win on the PGA TOUR, MacIntyre has written three distinct chapters that will forever be intrinsic to his story.

Amid all this, the person behind the player has not changed.

Robert MacIntyre-2161328355
Robert MacIntyre is to play alongside Ryder Cup teammates Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland over the first two rounds at this week's Genesis Scottish Open

Home is where the heart is. This week, and next week at The 152nd Open at Royal Troon for that matter too, he will have the joy of playing in his homeland at what are arguably the biggest two weeks of his season.

In an interview with the DP World Tour, he says: "I’ve watched Scottish Opens as a kid for however many years. That used to be me and my Dad’s trip. Everyone is as special as the other.

"Obviously last year was a big standout with the performance I had but if I don’t win a Major then a Scottish Open is right up there with it.

"Every year that I come back I am going to try and compete, try to win it.

"There are a lot more people in the crowds shouting, knowing who you are but all over Scotland it has been absolutely incredible. I didn’t think it would ever get to that but I am trying to just be me."

A hero's reception awaits MacIntyre this week as he makes just his second competitive appearance in his homeland since he was pipped to victory by future Ryder Cup teammate Rory McIlroy at last year's Scottish Open in East Lothian.

Starting the final round five shots adrift, the Scotsman mastered the windswept venue to card a six-under-par 64 and set the clubhouse target.

After fortunately finding a spectator path with an errant tee shot at the 18th, he struck a sensational second shot with a three wood from 213 yards to inside four feet for a closing birdie. If there had been in a roof, it would have been lifted off by the roars from the hordes of fans around the 18th green.

On any other week it would have been hands down the best shot, but it was perhaps matched in brilliance by McIlroy as the Northern Irishman produced a brilliant birdie-birdie finish to claim the Rolex Series title.

"The Genesis Scottish Open was the first time I really felt I was in the mix against the top boys," he reflects.

"Obviously, it is on home soil so it is links golf, you are more comfortable. It was good to know you can play against the best and know that your best stuff is up there."

In an event co-sanctioned with the PGA TOUR, MacIntyre had reached a new audience and the reception he received from the crowd will be one he never forgets.

"I am from a small town, I have had great support from family and friends but I never thought I would have support like that at a golf tournament," he says.

"I dreamed of winning a Scottish Open or an Open. You never think it is going to happen. When I holed that putt on 18 the noise and support [was amazing].

"Walking across the bridge, behind the 18th green, I looked down to my left and I could see my family and I thought ‘what have I just done?’

I am from a small town, I have had great support from family and friends but I never thought I would have support like that at a golf tournament

While he may not have lifted the silverware, his performance went a long way to helping him ensure qualification for the European Ryder Cup team at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club.

In spite of being a two-time winner on the DP World Tour winner, the enormity of a Ryder Cup was evident when he revealed he was left "almost crying" in the days leading up to his first appearance in golf's biennial team competition.

Yet, when the moment came, he seized it. Alongside the experienced Justin Rose, he went undefeated in both his fourballs and then beat the reigning U.S. Open champion Wyndham Clark as Europe concluded a 16½-11½ victory.

He ended the week as one of only three players - alongside Tyrrell Hatton and Jon Rahm - to go unbeaten in Rome.

Reflecting on his memories of that week in Italy, Team Europe Vice Captain Nicolas Colsaerts believes MacIntyre's upbringing was instrumental in him shining in the scorching heat.

"I don’t think any of us had any doubts that Bob was going to feel like a fish out of water, having played team sports in shinty," said Colsaerts, who was part of the famous European victory at the 2012 Ryder Cup.

"The other part is where he comes from. I have never been to Oban but I have seen pictures. Having travelled the world, I have an idea of what the place is like. It is a small place where you have that sense of unity I believe.

"I didn’t really speak about my experience. All I spoke about is what his first experience can be like. Try to enjoy these first couple of days, get the people on board.

"Play with the crowds a little bit, offer your personality to the people and try to build a relationship with them because they are the ones that can carry you throughout the week. I think most people will remember the celebrations on the Sunday night for a long time."

Following on from that undeniable high, MacIntyre would record two top 20s in his last five starts of the campaign to earn a PGA TOUR card as one of the ten best finishers, non exempt, on the Race to Dubai Rankings in Partnership with Rolex.

The new life stateside proved initially tough for the Scot, who had spent his past five years or so as a professional largely playing in the community that is the DP World Tour and Challenge Tour.

Yet, with his father Dougie acting as a temporary caddie and perhaps when he least expected it, he registered the biggest individual performance of his career to win on the PGA TOUR at the RBC Canadian Open in early June.

"With my dad on the bag, it was like a fairy tale," he reflects of how he held off Ben Griffin at Hamilton Golf & Country Club.

"To be honest, he just brought simplicity to the whole game.

"When it [his final putt on the 18th green] went in it was almost disbelief.

"I was with the guy who had taught me the game of golf. I knew I was good enough to win on the PGA TOUR. I didn’t ever think it was going to happen with my dad on the bag. You couldn’t have scripted the week."

Stories are there to be written though, and MacIntyre will hope he can pen his best chapter yet this week in front of his proud home fan base.

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