It wasn’t the final round Robert MacIntyre wanted at the Betfred British Masters, but he left the Belfry for the USA knowing he’s in far better nick than his first successful American sojourn in 2021.
The Scot had a one-under 71 and had to settle for a share of eighth after leading the field early in the final round. He suffered some ill-luck with a tee shot at the short seventh that bounced out of the cup and a loose twig’s intervention at the Brabazon Course’s tricky 1oth.
But as England’s Richard Bland celebrated his first win in 478 attempts and MacIntyre departed for this week’s PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, initial disappointment was giving way to confidence in what’s ahead.
‘We can’t be disappointed in it’
“It was pretty much what I was looking for on my return, and it is going to take the journey over to the States to reflect on it,” he said.
“I could be disappointed not to put up more of a challenge in the end. But, you know, we can’t be disappointed in it.
“I’m impatient with everything. I want it to happen every time I’m in with a chance. I just felt like today was a perfect chance. My iron play was brilliant this week. I was hitting my numbers.”
Golf can be cruel 😠
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) May 15, 2021
He felt he had the chance to build on a fast start until momentum was cut from under him by what happened at the seventh hole.
‘Momentum is a huge thing and seven stalled it’
“I knew I had to start hot and making two birdies in the first three holes was absolutely perfect,” he continued.
“We keep saying momentum is a huge thing and what happened at seven stalled it.
“I hit a good shot at the ninth then three-putted. Just little things that sway the momentum and your attitude. As positive as I try to be, once (a second bogey) happened on 10, I was like, ‘backs against the wall’ and it went flat.”
But he leaves for the US and his fifth major championship – he’s yet to miss the cut in any – knowing he’s playing his best form going into any of them.
— PGA Championship (@PGAChampionship) May 12, 2021
“It’s not often I go out there playing well,” he said. “Normally, I turn up over there and I’ve not played a tournament in three weeks.
“Now I’ve finally got confidence to take into an event rather than starting out fresh. I’ve got some momentum, just need to tweak a few things within the bag. Then we will be good to go to try and put in another good performance.
‘I am swinging it technically perfect’
“My iron play is as good as it has been. As Davey (Burns, his coach) would say, I am swinging it technically perfect for me.
“I wasn’t driving it as good as I wanted this week. I still hit a lot of fairways. It just wasn’t my usual self being able to see the shots off the tee. It’s just a case of needing little tweaks with the club set up.
“I’m really confident about having a good week next week.”
— Robert MacIntyre (@robert1lefty) May 16, 2021
The Belfry was set up to play tough and the golfing grapevine is telling everyone that Kiawah – which will be the longest course ever in a major – is even tougher.
“It’s a monster, we’re hearing,” laughed MacIntyre. “But the tougher it is, the better it is for me. It makes it a fair test of golf when it is really tough.
“The Belfry was a great test of golf. It really made you play golf rather than being allowed to hit it anywhere.
“Although I wasn’t driving it well, I was able to keep it within the tree lines and you were chipping it out sideways if you went in the trees. So this was a great test of golf before going out to Kiawah Island.”
‘I know I can compete’
He goes knowing he belongs in the best company after his performances at Augusta last month and in the Matchplay at Austin.
“I know I can compete and I think that’s why I get so annoyed when I get in contention and not winning,” he said. “But the guys are so good out here that it’s hard to win.
“I’m looking forward to Kiawah. I know quite a few guys out there now, I speak to them from time to time and I am sure I will do the same next week.
“I will spend some time with a few of them and play nine holes in practice here and there, just enjoy myself again.”