Frustrated Bob MacIntyre wants to get back to playing ‘free golf’

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Bob Macintyre looks on anxiously during the second round of the Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.

Twelve months after finishing third in the same event, missing the cut by four shots in the Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic wasn’t what he was looking for on his return to Emirates Golf Club.

Having also made an early exit in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, the first leg of a Rolex Series double-header on the DP World Tour, it’s not been the flying start to 2022 that the 25-year-old from Oban had in mind in the Middle East.

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“I’m not at the races yet,” admitted MacIntyre, speaking exclusively to Scotland on Sunday. “I’m driving it great, but my iron play has just not been there. During practice rounds, it’s been absolutely brilliant. I’ve played great in practice, but I’m just not managing to take it into the tournament.

Bo MacIntyre played in one of the featured groups with Adam Scott and Tommy Fleetwood in the opening two rounds in Dubai. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.

“There’s obviously different feelings and lots of things going on when you start a tournament and I want it badly, but it’s just not happening at the moment.”

As he sat for a while at the side of the practice putting green and chatted to his manager, Iain Stoddart, after his fate had been sealed in Dubai, MacIntyre was offered some words of encouragement by Ian Finnis, Tommy Fleetwood’s caddy, as he walked past.

Ever since they first came across him in that Abu Dhabi event three years ago, Fleetwood and Finnis have been big fans of the young Scot, both as a golfer and human being. As have lots of others and MacIntyre is determined to get back to his best on the course as quickly as possible.

“It’s about being patient and also being proactive about it,” I added. “I could just say, ‘it’s a couple of bad days’, but I need to put some serious work in to make myself comfortable again.

“Just now I’m not entirely sure what is going to happen when I swing sometimes. At 18 in the second round here, for example, it was like 195 yards to cover the water up the left-hand side.

“If you hit 100 balls, you wouldn’t hit five in the water, as I did. Just now it seems it was the only place it was going to go.

“It is massively frustrating, but I am still driving it well. The stats last year for my driving were great and that has continued. I’m not hitting it right out of the middle of the bat, so it’s not going its longest just now. But it’s not really in trouble. It’s there or thereabouts and we can play it.

“It’s just my iron play that’s really frustrating. The putting, which has been great, went late on in the second round, but that was going down to my head and being really frustrated at the end.”

Our chat at the back of the driving range came after a lengthy sit down with Stoddart, caddy Mike Thomson and swing coach David Burns. Though not there, his support team also now includes performance coach Stuart Morgan and putting guru Phil Kenyon.

“I’m expecting a lot from myself and I’m expecting a lot from everyone around me,” said MacIntyre. “We were just talking about it, that the higher up the game you go, the more things become available.

“You start analyzing things. There’s not a stat I couldn’t get about myself, technically, physically, mentally, the whole lot. I think at times we over-analyze things and I just need to get back to playing golf. I want to get back to playing free golf and just enjoy myself again.

“I feel like we’ve got a good combination and I’m not blaming anyone in the team for the performances the last two weeks. Last week, I wrote that off after being blown off the golf course on the Friday.

“But this was a week when I’d hoped to do well again. I love the golf course as my driving and iron play are normally solid and it’s a course where you need to do both those things well.

“It’s so disappointing to not only be thousands off the cut but thousands off the lead. I’m out here trying to win golf tournaments, not just make cuts, and just now it just feels a bit away and work is required.”

While he may have been fizzing inside, MacIntyre, who is heading back to Augusta in April for a second Masters appearance and is also exempt for the 150th Open at St Andrews, had just made a young fan’s day by presenting him with a hat.

“I try and give back as much as I can,” he said after the youngster’s dad had come over to thank him personally for the gesture. “It’s hard when it’s going the way it is at the moment and you are struggling and getting down on yourself, but I still try to give back as much as I can whether it is at home in Oban or out here.

“It’s about showing a brave face at times and doing the right things and getting angry behind closed doors if that needs to happen.”

As he bids to bounce back from a double disappointment, he can rely on his mum, Carol, to maintain an upbeat tone in communications back home. “While my dad will be a wee bit more harsh when I speak to him on Facetime, my mum is so positive,” he said. “I’m still her boy. It doesn’t matter where in the world I am.

“She gets it. She gets that we are traveling the world trying our best and some weeks it’s poor and other weeks it’s good. Golf is great when you are playing well. But it’s tough when you are playing bad and feel as if you are a million miles away. But it can change in a heartbeat.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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