Loose arrangements don’t really come off when trying to set up an interview with a golfer. The first hour of the Tuesday in Abu Dhabi had been spent waiting for someone who, as it transpired, was still fast asleep in his hotel five miles down the road and my only dealings with Bob MacIntyre were one text and a chance meeting by the 18th the night before when I was waiting for someone else.
I mumbled something about 10am on the clubhouse veranda, he mumbled something back, and we both went our separate ways. Given ‘my 9 o’clock’ was still fast on I got there early and, to my relief, my new friend was already in place. He didn’t expect to be here this week, he was seventh reserve at one point, but he got a little whisper that some of those who had entered were injured and one by one they dropped out.
MacIntyre has been on the radar for a few years having won the Scottish Amateur, very nearly the Amateur Championship, on his Walker Cup debut he thumped Cameron Champ and he only took one year to get off the Challenge Tour.
Quite a CV for someone who’s still only 22, but you couldn’t meet a more down-to-earth pro let alone a European Tour rookie.
Lovely chat with Bob MacIntyre. Everything to like about him – still lives in Oban, not got his own car, grew up on the par-62 at Glencruitten, still got his Aeroburner 3-wood and refreshingly down to earth and funny.
And he beat Cameron Champ 6&4 in the Walker Cup.. pic.twitter.com/kg6CpwwAuh
— Mark Townsend (@MarkTownsendNCG) January 15, 2019
You live in Oban, do you have any plans to move?
Home’s home so why change that? I live at home with my mum and dad and sister and we’ve got two foster boys who are 5 and 11. My mum’s always wanted to do it and they started doing it six years ago.
When the weather’s good there’s nowhere like it, sat on the seafront, even at night when the sun’s dropping behind the islands. It’s not as cold as the west coast but it is wet.
Have you got your own car yet?
No, I’m still running about in my mum’s Chevrolet Spark – I can hardly get the clubs in it. I’m away now for nine weeks so there’s no rush to change that. If I have a big result then why not?
Glasgow airport is two hours away so I get dropped off.
You’re not meant to get off the Challenge Tour at your first attempt, it’s meant to be more of a slog…
I was trying to have one season of keeping my card and then try and get off it once I had got to know the courses. Once I had secured my card in Finland in August, where I lost in a play-off, I just thought why not reset the goals so I shot for the stars and reached it.
Who’s your caddie?
A young Irish guy called Greg Milne. We got together in Denmark midway through the season and you could tell that it was going to work and here we are now. Some people were telling me go for more experience but I thought if he keeps me in the same mind frame then it should work out here.
I don’t like change, if we keep everything the same we’re onto a winner.
— Challenge Tour (@Challenge_Tour) December 19, 2018
Talk us through the putt in Finland which very nearly won the Challenge Tour’s Shot of the Year?
I’m not one for celebrating but when you see from another angle I was going mental, not just for trying to win a big event but I needed to finish in the top two in my last three events to have any chance of getting to the final events and that putt was tied for second at worst.
Jack Singh Brar needed an eagle to match me and he was putting for birdie so it was more for the overall picture.
You just need to get into those last three events and, if you can finish first or second in one of them, which I did, then you’ve got a good chance.
You’ve already played with Ernie Els quite a bit, what was that like?
I played with him on the Saturday in the SA Open, along with his nephew, who I had played with in some amateur events. He swings it the same.
My caddie and I had said that we’ll never fully realise we’re on the European Tour until we get drawn with one of the big names and I could hardly tee the ball up on the 1st.
You could never teach the pressure that I put on myself for the first five holes, now I feel more prepared.
Now I want to get into contention properly. In South Africa it was there at the back of my mind but I was thinking a lot of who I was playing with. The first goal is to keep my card, then it’s to get into the top 60. I also need to make a short-term one which I’ve not decided yet.
And it was Ernie again and another major winner on the Sunday?
Then I was drawn with him and Charl Schwartzel. I was watching the scores and I thought I could be drawn with Ewen Ferguson but I then got a text when I’d got back to the hotel and I couldn’t believe it. I hit a poor tee shot but I think it was the best out of the three of us!
I think I handled it well, Ernie and I tied both days and I maybe beat Charl by one on the day.
I then played with Ernie the following week on the Sunday at Leopard Creek and pipped him so I had a couple of top-15 finishes.
So how did Bob MacIntyre take down Cameron Champ in the Walker Cup? And what does he think of the new Scottish Amateur final format? Interview continues on the next page…