AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Robert MacIntyre was 12 tournaments into his rookie season on the European Tour when he wished to go dwelling to Scotland, a shock solely as a result of of his blue-collar nature to by no means draw back from a fight.
He was lonely on the highway. He was 22 and felt like he needed to carry himself like a “seasoned campaigner.” MacIntyre was shedding the enjoyment of sport. Back dwelling in Oban, a tiny coastal city on the western edge of the Scottish Highlands, he sat down his mother and father and and advised them he wanted a change.
“I wasn’t going to be giving up the game,” he mentioned. “But it was going to take a back seat just now. I was going to take a few weeks off. I could see my dad looking at me. He knew what was coming. I said, ‘I’m going back to playing shinty.’”
It’s a sport as outdated as Scotland, which MacIntyre as soon as described as a mix of area hockey and legalized violence. It extra carefully resembles the rough-and-tumble Irish sport of hurling. Both are extra harmful than golf.
“It was a bit scary,” his mom, Carol, mentioned of the household assembly. “But it’s in his blood to play shinty.”
His grandfather, Dougie MacIntyre Sr., was considered among the many greatest to ever play. His father (Dougie) and uncle (Gordon) scored all three objectives when Oban Camanachd gained its final league title in 1996, the 12 months MacIntyre was born.
So as a substitute of taking part in the China Open, he educated on Tuesday and Thursday and performed a shinty match on Saturday. The subsequent day, he drove to Southport, England, for the British Masters and tied for second.
Then it was again to shinty, with drills and observe on Tuesday and Thursday and the sport on Saturday. Then he flew to Denmark and completed second once more in golf, one shot behind Bernd Wiesberger.
“In shinty, it can get rough, tough, aggressive. But it keeps the fight in you,” MacIntyre mentioned. “All you need is one good shot to turn it around. That’s what it’s like on the golf course. That’s the background I’m from. It gives me that fight and drive to achieve what I want to do.”
He recalls being criticized for taking such a risk as a golfer. He also remembers his reply.
“Some people take drugs, drink, the lot,” he said. “My drug is shinty.”
His job is golf, and people two weeks of feeling like a child once more — using the bus along with his friends, singing and having just a few beers on the best way dwelling — renewed his goal and his fight.
He went on to win the Sir Henry Cotton Award because the European Tour rookie of the 12 months in 2019. He gained in Cyprus final 12 months for his first European Tour victory and stored shifting up in the world rating till he cracked the highest 50.
Next cease: Augusta National for the Masters.
MacIntyre posted the official notification from the club on Twitter and wrote, “Dreams do come true.”
He gained some attention two weeks ago when Masters champion Dustin Johnson had to rally to halve their match in the Dell Match Play. Then, needing a birdie on the final hole against Adam Long to win his group, MacIntyre hit driver on the 371-yard closing hole so perfectly that it rolled up a bank and onto the green to 3 feet, the shot of the tournament.
“You’ve just got to keep fighting to the end,” he said.
Lee Westwood loves his game and his humor. They played one round in Scotland last year before MacIntyre had to withdraw. They didn’t play again until The Players Championship last month.
“He didn’t make a birdie in Scotland. He didn’t make a birdie the first nine holes here,” Westwood mentioned. “He birdied 11 and he went, ‘That’s the first birdie I’ve ever made playing with you.’ I like his game. He’s aggressive. He putts so nicely. He’s got a good future.”
MacIntyre is the latest hope to restore some golfing glory to Scotland; while the Masters was his first goal, the Ryder Cup is very much on his radar.
He grew up in a house overlooking the 12th tee at Glencruitten Golf Club, a James Braid course that plays as a par 62 and demands creativity. His father is the greenskeeper, and MacIntyre and his two older sisters would play a four-hole loop at the end of the day.
There’s no place he’d rather be than Oban. It is a town of about 8,500 that he described as “punching about its weight,” much like MacIntyre.
“Have you been to Loch Lomond?” he said. “Take the Loch Lomond road, and if you don’t come off the road for two hours, you’ll come to Oban.”
That it might produce the highest-ranked Scottish golfer (No. 44) will not be a shock, least of all to the left-handed MacIntyre, a scrappy lad recognized to combine it up whether or not it is golf or shinty.
“There’s few folks from a smaller city than I’m from, however you’ve got simply bought to dream,” he said. “A lot of people will doubt you, try to put you down, tell you that you can’t do things. If you work hard enough and smart enough with the right people around you, anything is possible in this game.”
MacIntyre played one year at McNeese State in Louisiana, competing against the likes of Jon Rahm. He played the Walker Cup at Los Angeles Country Club, where he beat Cameron Champ in one match (6 and 4) and halved with him in another. And then he made his pro debut on the MENA Tour (Middle East and North Africa).
He opened with a 78 and then set the course record at 64 in the final round to tie for third.
The Masters will be his seventh straight week in this American adventure he’s on. He got off to a rough start in the World Golf Championship in Florida, where he tied for 61st. MacIntyre spoke that week of having issues at home without elaborating, except to say it was no excuse.
Turns out his grandfather, the shinty legend, had died the week before at age 89.
His mother joined him in Austin, Texas, with a self-anointed job description as “chief cook, bottle washer and laundry servant.” MacIntyre described her as someone who would do anything for anyone and “she does it well.”
“She doesn’t get the attention she deserves and she doesn’t want it,” he said.
Proof of that is back home in Oban. The family decided years ago to take in foster children, particularly those who have been neglected or abused. That has shaped him as much as shinty.
Even those full of fight have room for compassion.
“When the wee boy first arrived, my mom went to give him a cuddle and he backed up,” MacIntyre said. “It brings a tear to my eye desirous about it. Some of the children arrive with nothing, and also you see your mother work endlessly to allow them to play golf, soccer, educate them to swim, each life ability they want.
“They come with nothing and they go away with as much as we can give them,” he mentioned. “I’ve matured lots seeing that.”
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