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TEE TO GREEN, STEVE SCOTT: Robert MacIntyre continues his progression, at his natural pace

Robert MacIntyre
Robert MacIntyre's victory in Italy answered his critics conclusively.

We’re good at queuing in this country, as the last week has shown. However, some queues are a little less admirable than others.

Those queuing up over the last 12 months to take a pop at Robert MacIntyre, for instance.

It seems, almost inevitably, we have this nagging, irresistible predilection in Scotland to snipe at our own.

But they’re in full retreat after his victory in the DS Automobiles Open D’Italia in Rome at the weekend. This was actually exactly the sort of victory that any of Bob’s critics – myself included – have been asking for. Their doubts, reasonable or otherwise, firmly and conclusively answered.

His biggest achievement so far

This was a class field, featuring many of the top players on the DP World Tour. Two of the most prominent, Matt Fitzpatrick and Rory McIlroy, were in the mix on Sunday, and the supporting competing cast was none too shabby either.

Yet MacIntyre saw them all off, with a brilliant final round of seven-under 64, besting Fitzpatrick with another birdie in a one-hole play-off.

It’s the left-hander’s biggest achievement so far, no question. Scots have won the Open D’Italia fairly regularly down the years, but this was more significant than any of those dating back to Eric Brown.

Doubts about Bob’s progress in the past year were real enough, even understandable. He felt them himself, as he alluded to in his comments after his win.

I don’t feel it was really quite as desperate as he made it sound. There were times during the last year when he played really well, other times when he tried to put the hammer down there was nothing there.

But the basic talent and ability were never absent. His own impatience with his progress is perhaps reflected in the impatience of so many of us to see him succeed.

We’re always kind of desperate in Scottish golf for our players to have significant success. It’s another burden of the Home of Golf ® thing.

Picking holes

That doesn’t excuse, however, seeing something that is plainly not there. Like the snipers on social media or jaundiced observers picking holes basically for some cruel fun.

Has he got a problem winning? That win in Cyprus didn’t mean anything, did it? All those made cuts in majors don’t count for much, do they?

I’ve been guilty a little myself of this. I thought Bob chased a PGA Tour card too hard last year, seemingly trying to get everything at once, including a Ryder Cup spot.

Robert MacIntyre
Bob did seem weighed down by his lack of form earlier this summer.

My suspicion from interviews with Padraig Harrington in the lead up to Whistling Straits was that Bob was always an outsider for that. It didn’t work out either way, but that doesn’t mean it was bad decision-making.

In the end, it’s really all about natural progression. Bob’s on no-one’s timetable but his own.

That means it’s now that the big win we’ve been waiting for comes, now that he’s a genuine Ryder Cup contender (we’re still a long way out, but winning at the host course will do no harm whatsoever).

It’s now that he can take the PGA Tour card he probably secured at the weekend and play there as much – or as little – as he wants.

Another example to his friends and peers

The other aspect of MacIntyre’s victory is that underlines to his countrymen and peers that if you don’t step back, you keep moving forward.

Ewen Ferguson has won twice this year, but he’s made reference to his close friend’s successes as fuel to him to press on.

For quite a time, Ewen was maybe the underachiever of this great crop of young players we presently have. He’s put that to bed with a vengeance with his wins in his debut season this year. He’s even been scouted by the Ryder Cup management team himself.

And really, it should be the same for our other guys – Grant Forrest, David Law, Connor Syme. And for Calum Hill, when he returns from a year plagued by illness and injury next week at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

You can go down even further than that, and look at those Scots who clearly have ability but have until now struggled in the pro ranks. Like Liam Johnston, twice a Challenge Tour winner. Or Bradley Neil, the former Amateur champion from Blairgowrie.

At their own pace

Or even as far as Michael Stewart. The Troon player was an exceptional amateur, finishing runner-up in the Amateur, being a key part of the Walker Cup side that beat a US side packed with future stars at Royal Aberdeen in 2011.

Mikey was one of our many, many ‘can’t miss’ prospects that seemed to miss. Last week he claimed an overdue maiden victory in the EuroPro Tour event at Leven Links, and in impressively handsome style.

He’s in his 30s now, but now has a crack at a Challenge Tour card next year from the EuroPro Order of Merit.

Who knows what might happen? I know the past decade has been a frustrating struggle for Mikey, but perhaps this is HIS natural progression.

It hasn’t been as quick as he and we would have liked, but that doesn’t mean it’ll never happen.

That counts for everyone. If Bob’s win proves anything, it’s that you should never give up.