The week at Royal Portrush two years ago proved to Robert MacIntyre the real reason he plays golf – the joy it can bring to those he cares about.
The Oban lefty really broke through at the 148th Open Championship, his first, with his brilliant finish in a tie for sixth in difficult conditions. It was the best Scottish debut in the oldest championship since Young Tom Morris.
That week everything fell into place for MacIntyre and two years on it’s the reason he’s the only Scot in the field at Royal St George’s this week. But he discovered just why he loves to play at this level.
‘You get to give people a buzz’
“I play for my own enjoyment, but it’s not the real reason I play the game,” he said. “You get to give people a buzz.
“That week I had loads of family and friends there and it was chilled out, the way I love it. But getting to see the joy I put on other people’s faces, that’s what made it memorable.
“It was (then caddie) Greg’s at the time, it was my family. I look at the leaderboard and so I’m thinking, let’s do this, let’s do it for everyone, for the cheer that’ll go up.
“That’s the reason I do it, at Portrush I holed that putt in the final round on 18 and the cheer went up, that was awesome.
“That’s the reason I play golf. Really, it’s the only reason.”
‘Something’s going to happen very soon’
Lovely way to finish today 😍
The supports was just as good 🏴🏴 pic.twitter.com/3unzBTSHVm
— Robert MacIntyre (@robert1lefty) July 8, 2021
Getting that same feeling at Sandwich is the aim, and he already feels he’s playing as well as he was going into that championship two years ago.
“When I go to America to play I always have a week off leading up to events,” he said. “It’s kind of hard because you have to get over there and you have to travel.
“This time I feel I’m playing well. I’d love to have had that week in Ireland as well to really get the competitive edge back. But you’re dealt the cards, we take them and we get on with it.
“I’m playing good, and something’s going to happen very soon. Hopefully it’ll happen next week.”
‘I feel so comfortable out here’
While he hasn’t quite hit the standards he wants in the four US majors he’s played since Portrush, he still feels they’ve been a big learning experience.
“Nothing has changed in my attitude, other than belief,” he said. “I feel so comfortable out here competing against these guys, I feel like my game will hold up against them.
“I proved it, not just to you guys but to myself, at Augusta and the matchplay. So this is the best I’ve felt, even after a slightly disappointing finish in the Scottish.
“The field was strong at the Scottish Open, there’s only a select few more here. It was a big buzz two years ago, I was shaking a little bit. I’m still going to be nervous on the first tee, probably even on the 18th tee.
“But I know what uncomfortable feels like and it’s part of the game. You can control it.”
‘I wasn’t as clever back then’
— Pete Ferguson (@pete_ferguson1) July 8, 2021
Sandwich is pretty well known to MacIntyre – he’s played it eight to 10 times, including in the Amateur Championship of 2017, when he reached the last 16.
“I know roughly where I’m going, I know the quirks within reason,” he said. “I’m not going to take my book from that year, I wasn’t as clever back then!
“I’ve spoken to a fair few guys who’ve said it’s slightly softer than usual which is a good thing around there. A lot of fairways camber off the side, so I’m looking forward to holding a few fairways more easily.
“The family are going again. I’ll be in the bio-bubble with my team, but the whole family will be down.
“We’ll see what’s going on. If we’re going well, I think Oban’ll empty!”