New European Tour winner Bob MacIntyre is 'human Trackman', says coach
It was like watching Colin Montgomerie in his prime on the European Tour. Time and time again in the final round of the Aphrodite Hills Cyprus Showdown on Sunday, Bob MacIntyre was peppering flags with an iron in his hand.
Beauties at both the 15th and 17th set up timely birdie-2s - he was an inch away from a hole-in-one at the latter - as the 24-year-old left-hander from Oban claimed his maiden victory on the circuit at the Paphos venue.
“He’s like a human Trackman,” said David Burns, MacIntyre’s coach. “It’s incredible the immediate feedback he gives with regards to distance. His distance control with his irons is unbelievable - one of the strongest parts of his game.
“When he is hitting irons, if he knows a 7-iron is going 178 or whatever, he will tell me if it’s going 175 or, if he’s mishit it, 173.”
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Burns, who is based at Kingsfield Golf Centre on the outskirts of Linlithgow, has not spent as much time as he normally would with MacIntyre at events this year.
But he was out for the Cyprus Open, the first leg of a double-header at Aphrodite Hills on the Mediterranean island, and liked what he saw as his man finished joint-third. “Tee to green was the best I’d ever seen him,” said Buns. “So this week’s success did not come as a surprise at all.
“He was buzzing the week I was out. Sometimes young laddies aren’t very good speaking face to face about how they are actually feeling. But he sent me a couple of private texts saying, ‘you’ve got me swinging it great and I’ve never driven it like this in my life’.”
After finishing runner-up three times last season, it only seemed a matter of time before MacIntyre made the breakthrough at the top level and, to the delight of many in the golfing world, he achieved that feat in style with a closing seven-under-par 64, coming home in five-under.
“The way he finished it off on Sunday is not something you can teach, so I am not taking credit for that,” said Burns, laughing. “He recovered well from a bogey at the par-5 third. That’s a dropped shot you are not expecting and, if you are a week bit fragile, that could have been damaging in an 18-hole sprint.
“To have two 2s in the last four holes and to cover the last six in four-under was very impressive. The two shots he hit down the last, my god. The (343-yard fairway-splitting) drive was phenomenal and, even though he only had a 9-iron in his hand, that was no giveaway as you only need to mis-hit it by five yards and you are in the water.”
MacIntyre, who is the 25th different Scot to win on the European circuit, has climbed to 62nd in the world rankings. He’s already made the cut in The Open, US Open and US PGA in the last year or so and now a Masters debut next April is a distinct possibility.
“It is great to get that first win sooner rather than later because, obviously, the longer it goes on the more you start to doubt yourself,” said Burns. “I would have been amazed if this win hadn’t come. Calum Hill (who is also coached by Burns) has been working hard and is someone who is technically improving all the time.
“He’s now somebody who is going to make cut after cut. I put him up against Bob in a couple of short-game tests and Bob wiped the floor with him. I said to Calum, ‘that’s the standard I’m after from you’.
“I think Calum was gobsmacked about how good Bob’s short game was because it’s a part of his game that is overlooked. People just look at him driving the ball well and flushing irons. His bunker play is unbelievable. He has magic hands. The laddie doesn’t have a weakness.”Like Burns, MacIntyre’s manager, Iain Stoddart, is hoping this will be the first of many wins for the young Scot, who is not only one of the most talented players on the European Tour but also one of the most popular.
“You are beginning to see something that we have known all along that you are dealing with a top, top boy,” said Stoddart, the co-founder of Edinburgh-based Bounce Sport. “We are blessed because in our group they are all down-to-earth blokes who get their head down and get on with it. We are sitting there with honest folk and a hell of a good group.”
MacIntyre admitted after his victory that he’d struggled mentally after coming out of the COVID-19 lockdown. “I think everybody has been struggling with it,” added Stoddart. “It’s just varying degrees, probably, and we have always been upbeat and positive.”MacIntyre has joined David Law in becoming a first-time European Tour winner over the past couple of seasons and now the likes of Hill, Grant Forrest, Connor Syme and Ewen Ferguson will all be trying harder than ever to do likewise.
“I think that’s kind of got them to where they are now. They have all fed off each other,” observed Stoddart of Scotland’s best crop of twentysomethings for a long time.
“I think the way Bob was going, with his results - he’s had a couple of seconds and been Rookie of the Year - what that was doing was that third was like a 10th or 15th. He felt he needed to get that win, so to get that out of the road, you feel there is no stopping him.”
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