Robert MacIntyre fears for his beloved home club and for the world at large during the coronavirus crisis, but admits the enforced break from golf could be good for him personally.
The young Scot, rookie of the year on the European Tour in 2019, is back home in Oban with his enlarged family, amusing himself on his Peloton bike trying to get a bit trimmer and doing shifts on home schooling with his young foster brothers.
But a nagging hand injury he played through for the second half of his brilliant debut season is getting time to heal properly and he’s always trying to better himself even in confined surroundings.
“Obviously I would rather be out competing but at this time it is just about trying to better myself, get myself fitter, get my swing better and just get on with it,” he said, speaking from his parent’s home.
“This break has actually come at a good time for me. My hand was bothering me since the British Open last year so it has been a bit of an ongoing issue. I battled on through it and had eight weeks off at the end of last year.
“I thought that had fixed it, but I turned up in Abu Dhabi and I could hardly hit the ball. I managed to get through it at the start of the season, but now I have a decent break it should be fully healed and ready to go when we start up again.”
The problem has been solved by a slight change in his grip which was road-tested the last week he played, in Qatar. With the help of his Dad Dougie, he’s built a driving net in his back garden the last couple of days and is sending videos to his coach David Burns.
Robert’s also looking to lose a little weight, although his exploits on the Peloton exercise bike challenge don’t quite match that of some of his peers.
“It’s overheating at the moment I’m using it that much,” he added. “But I’ve seen the numbers put up by Rory (McIlroy) and Billy Horschel in their challenges against each other and they’re not even normal, not human!
“I know a guy through county golf and the shinty club, he’s got one of them and we compete against each other. It’s good that you can go up against someone and they push you, even if they’re fitter than you it pushes you more.
“I just want to get stronger and fitter. I try to stay positive, it’s better than sitting around getting frustrated because you can’t compete.”
MacIntyre’s rise in the last year has been meteoric, and the enforced break came as he was pushing for a place in the world’s top 50 that might squeeze him into his first Masters.
“I had a chance of the Masters when the break came but from where I came from, top 50 in the world in such a short space of time was going to be really hard,” he said.
“Nobody knows what is going to happen with the Masters. If it gets played this year, there might be a different cut-off date to be playing in it.
“I know now that my game’s good enough to compete at the top end of world golf. I always thought turning from amateur to professional that the game was going to be so different, but I’ve found that it’s not.
“But for me right now it’s about staying safe, keeping the family safe and just saying healthy.”
That means taking his turn with home schooling of young brothers Tom and Dan, and using a little imagination for practice with the results were broadcast on social media through his sponsors Aberdeen Standard Investments and the European Tour.
“Someone had moved wheelie bins into the centre of the garden so I started chipping from the window trying to hit them, but that became too easy,” he recalled.
“So we had one of the boys drive the buggy across the grass with a bucket of water in the back, and I tried hitting that. It took about 15 takes to get it right!”
His Dad is greenkeeper at Glencruitten next to his home, but Robert fears for the clubs during the lockdown.
“It’s all shut down, looking a bit gloomy just now.
“I think there’s a lot of courses that are going to (struggle). We’re such a small community and with so many different sports that the golf course isn’t there to make money, it’s there just to survive, through functions and all the visitors.
“Now this has happened it’s knocked it on the head and there’s no functions at all, anywhere. That was our main income at the club so now it’s just about battening up the hatches and trying to just hold out.”
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