Robert MacIntyre had his first thrill on TPC Sawgrass’ famous 17th hole before his Players Championship debut has even begun, and the young Scot is soaking up all the atmosphere he can get.
While practising on Wednesday the left-hander attempted a backward strike from tight to the sleepers at the Island green – as if he were a righty – and actually holed the thing.
Sawgrass ❤️❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/NeUxwuZNad
— Robert MacIntyre (@robert1lefty) March 10, 2021
“That was unbelievable,” he said. “Pure pot luck, of course.
“The green is smaller than it looks on TV, but again, it’s still a short iron. You just focus on the target and you go.
“But that shot that I hit – you’re standing there expecting me to hit this thing in the water, if I hit it. It just came off a little bit thin, dead on line, and how it went in the hole, I don’t know.”
Players is big enough for now
Making his debut at the Players is a big enough thing without thinking about the Masters qualification. Bob sits at 42nd in the World Rankings and the deadline to be in the top 50 – and gain an invitation to Augusta – is coming up less than two weeks away.
“That’s on the back burner,” he said. “I’m out here this week trying to compete. Hit a good tee shot off the first tomorrow and away we go.
“The Masters will take care of itself. If I play well this week, it will take care of it. If I don’t play well, I should have taken care of it before now.
“I’m not fussed about the Masters just now. If I get that invite, I get that invite.”
The Players is huge enough in itself, is his philosophy.
“It’s huge for me and my team. We’ve worked hard every step of the way for this chance, and now we’re here.
“It’s part of the journey that I’m on. It’s been a fast and smooth progression through the ranks from Challenge Tour, European Tour, major events. Now I’m playing PGA TOUR events. It’s what I’ve dreamed of as a kid.
If I control my ball, it doesn’t matter what’s in my way’
“I think if you play good golf here, if you hit good shots, you’ll be rewarded. Hit bad shots you’re going to be punished, and that’s the sort of golf courses I like.
“There’s some holes where I find the tee shots are going to be difficult because of the doglegs, overhanging trees and stuff like that.
“But If I control my golf ball the way I know I can control my golf ball, it doesn’t matter what’s in my way. Yeah, we just go out there and swing with freedom, and hopefully it works.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge. My game hasn’t been there the last two weeks but we’ve managed in hang in there and score all right. That’s what I do, just fight till the end.”
Coach on ‘red alert’ resulted in Sunday improvement
MacIntyre has taken a little time to totally acclimatise himself with conditions in Florida but goes into his third event with a little momentum after a strong finish on Sunday at Bay Hill.
“I started hitting it better,” he said. “My coach was on red alert on Sunday morning.
“Mike, my caddie, sent him some videos while we were on the range, and he just gave us little swing thoughts that we managed to take out on the golf course.
“Then I was 4-over through six holes or whatever and I hadn’t missed a golf shot. I felt like I played good golf, and Mike just said to me, it doesn’t matter, it’s a start.
“We just found confidence throughout the round, and we just started hitting better shots, one after another, and holed a few putts. I was actually disappointed with level par in the end.”
The Scot has a prize draw for the first two days with Lee Westwood – fresh from his close thing at the Arnold Palmer – and Louis Oosthuizen.
“That’s a great group. For the style of golf course especially, two steady players. Obviously Lee has just come off a good result there, but they’ll be great guys to play with.”