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Robert MacIntyre's performance at Augusta proves he is the real deal

Tom Cary
·4-min read
Robert MacIntyre, of Scotland, reacts after missing an eagle putt on the second hole during the third round of the Masters golf tournament on Saturday, April 10, 2021, in Augusta, Ga. - AP
Robert MacIntyre, of Scotland, reacts after missing an eagle putt on the second hole during the third round of the Masters golf tournament on Saturday, April 10, 2021, in Augusta, Ga. - AP

When Robert MacIntyre told reporters earlier in the week that he felt he could win this Masters if he played to his potential it was tempting to put his words down to youthful bravado. The 24-year-old from Oban in the western Highlands was naturally excited at the prospect of making his Masters debut.

MacIntyre only secured his berth here a couple of weeks ago after a strong performance at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship lifted him into the world’s top 50.

Okay, he was playing well. He had eliminated world No 1 Dustin Johnson in Austin, as well as Kevin Na and Adam Long. And he is clearly up for a fight. MacIntyre grew up playing shinty, for God’s sake. But trying to master a fiendishly firm Augusta course, in the space of just a few days, was surely expecting too much. Even allowing for the fact that as “a lefty with a fade” MacIntyre felt he was "well suited" to the challenge, this is a course that requires knowledge and experience.

We know better now. MacIntyre is the real deal. When the hooter sounded to signal the suspension in play, the Scot had just holed out from 18 feet at 14 for yet another birdie, to move to one-under for the tournament and to within six shots of the lead. MacIntyre came out after the rain delay and promptly picked up where he left off, managing to get up and down from a very tricky position off the back of the green at 15.

This has been a dream week for MacIntyre. A dream month. This is his seventh straight week playing in the States and he has got better and better. A rough start in the World Golf Championship in Florida saw him tie for 61st. It turned out he was grieving the death of his grandfather, Dougie MacIntyre Sr, a shinty legend regarded as among the best to ever play the game.

His mother joined him in Austin, taking on the role of “chief cook, bottle washer and laundry servant”. It clearly did the trick.

MacIntrye’s parents have been with him in Augusta this week and he has looked right at home.

Whatever it was Patrick Reed - a friend and mentor since they played together in Turkey a few years ago in MacIntyre’s rookie year - told him when they practised together on Monday, it worked.

Tom Cary's Masters diary
Tom Cary's Masters diary

An opening day 74 was followed by a second round 70 leaving him level-par at the start of play on Saturday. And he quietly went about his business again, never panicking when he dropped a shot, as he did at the first when a poor approach left him with too much to do. He just went and took it straight back at the par-five second, a stonking 290-yard fairway wood right into the heart of the green setting up his first birdie of the day.

Another birdie at three, where he all but drove the 350 yards to the green, moved MacIntyre to one-under. And it was the same after a bogey at four, MacIntyre bouncing straight back with a wonderful tee shot at the par-three sixth to within seven feet. Another bogey at seven was followed by another birdie at eight.

It’s no wonder many pundits are tipping the Scot for a spot on the European team at Whistling Straits this autumn. MacIntyre looks as if he would be a real asset. He belongs at this level and he knows it.

“I’m not pinching myself because at the end of the day I’ve worked hard to get where I am,” he replied when asked this week whether it was a dream come true to be here. “Of course it’s something I dreamed of but I haven’t just woken up and got lucky. This is what we do. Obviously it’s really special to be here but I work my arse off every time I practise. It’s not by luck."

It did not look like luck when MacIntyre stuck his approach to within 12 feet at 17 and holed out for yet another birdie to move to two-under for the round and the tournament. What a story the young man from Oban is proving to be - within a few shots of the lead of the Masters, after 54 holes, on debut. We should not be surprised. He did warn us.