Robert MacIntyre admits his attacking style is what makes his best golf, but it may not be what makes for his best chance at Augusta National for the Masters.
The 25-year-old Scot returns this week for his second stab at the year’s first major, a tournament he lends more importance than even the Open to being in.
“Between the two, it’s getting back to the Masters,” he said when asked where returning to Augusta or back into the Open ranked in importance.
“But it’s for the sheer fact that there are only 80 guys (at Augusta) and there’s no qualification. You can go to Open qualifying, play two rounds and get in.
“You ain’t qualifying for The Masters unless you are playing unbelievable golf and are in the top 50 in the world.
“It’s some achievement to get there in the first place and then to have a good performance and finishing 12th last year to get back is probably one of the greatest things I’ve done so far.”
‘I’m going back with more knowledge’
Getting day one tips off a Masters Champion.
— DP World Tour (@DPWorldTour) April 5, 2021
But although everyone tells him Augusta is made for lefties – “Russell Knox was just saying that to me today” – and he’s seen that close up, he realises the style that got him into the Masters in the first place might have to be occasionally reined in.
“I’m going back with more knowledge, not sure if that’s me smarter or wiser, but I’m going back with more knowledge of the golf course,” he said. “And more belief than ever before.
“Last year I didn’t know what to expect or what was to come. But the way I played showed I can play the golf course, and I can compete.
“Even then, last year I made lots of mistakes. In the last round, I double-bogeyed the sixth, attacking that back pin. There are shots I threw away.
“You can play defensively and plot your way round there and I knew that. But that’s not the way I play golf. I play to have fun and the only way to have fun is to attack.
“I know you can attack at Augusta but you have to be cautious. If you’re too reckless, you’ll be home on Friday night.”
“I want to compete, I feel I have the game to do that. But it’s about doing it smart and not doing anything daft which throws you out of the event early.”
‘I feel as fresh as I’ve been in a long time’
Robert MacIntyre arrives at Augusta for his Masters debut 🏴🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/49LT0kJKdW
— BBC Sport Scotland (@BBCSportScot) April 6, 2021
MacIntyre feels he’s got the preparation right this year – he played this weekend’s Valero Texas Open to complete a build-up that wasn’t entirely by design.
“The schedule was all trying to get into the Matchplay, to be honest,” he admitted. “It was actually going to hurt (his ranking) to play much before that, if I was to get into the Matchplay.
“Instead I was home, chilling out, playing a bit of shinty, just doing my usual. I feel as fresh as I’ve been in a long time. That’s four weeks off in the middle of the season, it’s not often you get that chance.
“Coming back, in the first round of the Matchplay against Collin (Morikawa) I was a bit rusty. But it got better as the week progressed, and the game is as good as it’s been in a while.”
“The technique’s there. I don’t need to keep doing certain things. In the last two weeks, the strike’s been there and it’s just about sharpening up the short game. That’ll come with playing.
“The only thing I need to do for Augusta is to react to the shot it gives you and I’ve been doing that a lot better the last couple of weeks.”
Heaven for lefties
Masters 2021: Do lefties have an edge at Augusta National? Robert MacIntyre, the highest ranked in the world, sure hopes so https://t.co/hN8eHzCHT0
— John Huggan (@johnhuggan) April 7, 2021
As for lefties at Augusta, he realised immediately what everyone meant when he played it himself.
“It’s the shot shape, the 12th is a good example,” he said. “The fade is always easier and a lot more controlled a shot.
“If a right-hander misses it there, it goes into the water or long into the flowers and he has no shot. But if I pull it, the ball goes further and covers the water, or there’s a big area to catch it.
“That’s just one example. It isn’t the same everywhere, but it suits my shape of shot more often.”
Sometimes a chip to 35 feet and a two putt is the smart option at Augusta, but sometimes there are attacking shots like his peach at the 14th in the final round last year.
“Definitely my favourite shot,” he recalled. “I hit it left into the trees and I walked up. My caddie (Mike Thomson) got there before me as I was a wee bit angry walking off the tee.
“Mike was looking at the lay up and I’m looking up in the trees and saying, ‘there’s a gap there…’
“I’m pointing up and he says ‘I don’t see a gap, Bob.’ But I’m saying ‘no, trust me, I see it up there’. I hit it, a big high draw which catches the slope and rolls to eight feet. I end up making birdie from the middle of the trees.”