It was a step into the unknown for the Oban man when he teed up in the 2019 Open at Royal Portrush, but that test was passed with flying colors with a top-10 finish and he’s developed a handy habit of producing his best stuff on the game’s biggest stages.
“You never want to miss a cut in a major,” added MacIntyre, having made it to the weekend on this occasion on the back of successive 73s in the company of South African Charl Schwartzel, the 2011 winner and going well again here, to sit on two-over-par.
“Every time you get into a major, you want to make the cut and then try and compete. It’s brilliant to know that my game stands up in the toughest of tests against the best players.”
The left-hander birdied the 72nd hole a year ago to tie for 12th, punching his return ticket to the Georgia venue in the process, before ending up in the top 10 again at The Open at Royal St George’s.
His sole success so far has come in the Cyprus Showdown, a low-key event on the DP World Tour, but he can feel pretty confident that more success can follow based on coming up with the goods in events like this.
“I mean, week in and week out, it might not be there, but the minute we get put under the gun and the high pressure, I just trust myself. I trust the people around me. They trust me. I trust them,” he said.
On a day when Schwartzel catapulted himself up the leaderboard with a 69, which moved him to three-under, MacIntyre once again showed that he can dig in when the going gets tough.
Having only felt he hit a couple of bad shots in the entire first round, he’d already reached that tally in the second circuit after four holes and later summed up the opening six holes, which included dropped shots at both the second and fifth and two or three wayward blows, as “brutal.”
He badly needed a spark and it came at the par-4 seventh. “I hit probably the best 56-degree wedge I’ve ever had in my life,” he said of making a tap-in birdie there from the trees on the right. “There was a slight gap halfway up the tree, and the only way I could get it on the green was to play for the hook and stay low. It was absolutely perfect.”
He celebrated a couple save at the tenth with a fist pump before suffering spillage for the second day running at the 11th, bogeying that on this occasion. Making the cut again, though, was never in doubt when he birdied the short 12th from four feet and also picked up a shot at the par-5 13th.
“It wasn’t looking pretty early on, but I’m in a good spot and I’m playing solid. I’ve just not had any magic yet,” he said.
“I think sometimes I get too defensive. I think the more you play here, the more you get defensive. Last year I had no fears, I had no memories, so I could be aggressive. This year I’m a wee bit more defensive. But, over the weekend, we can just take the reins off and go at it.”
While MacIntyre is in the fledgling phase of his major career, compatriot Sandy Lyle was playing his 100th this week and revealed he’ll be bringing down the curtain here next year on his 42nd appearance.
“That’s very impressive,” said MacIntyre of Lyle’s major milestone. “Such a nice guy, and he helps you round. You can see from the game that he’s got now that earlier in his career it must have been unbelievable, and now it’s a special 100.”
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