The drive – a slow one, no doubt – up Magnolia Drive later this week is going to be sweet and memorable, but Robert MacIntyre will try and treat the pageantry of Augusta and the Masters just like any other tournament.
The Oban left-hander’s last 16 place in the World Matchplay – knocking out world No 1 Dustin Johnson on the way – nailed down his debut at the Masters. Augusta being Augusta, he still had to wait for the actual hand-written invitation to be sure, but it arrived on Monday afternoon.
‘Something I’ve worked hard all my life for’
— Robert MacIntyre (@robert1lefty) March 29, 2021
Team MacIntyre will be depleted by the pandemic – “I’d have an army coming over if it were normal times” – but there’s obvious pride at this significant staging post in his career.
“It’s been a long time I’ve had it in my sights,” said the 24-year-old. “To really do it…it’s something I’ve worked hard all my life for.
“It’s something that not many get the opportunity to do and to get the chance and see it, it’s going to be unbelievable. You watch year in year out and think `I’d love to play there one day’, but realistically you think, `it’ll probably never happen’.
“But I’ve put the work in, people around me have as well and it’s been rewarded.”
‘People take notice when you play good golf’
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 27, 2021
MacIntyre would probably have made it without last weekend’s fun at the Matchplay, driving greens and tweaking the nose of the World No 1, but it certainly helped his profile.
“I’m not going out there shouting and screaming who I am,” he said. “People take notice when you play good golf, when I gave DJ a bit of a scare.
“But again, I didn’t beat him, so in my mind there’s a lot of work to do. It makes me proud I can stand up against these guys. He basically had to throw the kitchen sink at me to get a half. But he showed why he’s the best player on the planet.
“I was disappointed not to beat him. But it lets me know I can compete against the best. For me I don’t need any more belief than seeing what I’ve done the last week.
“I feel as though I can compete, I have the shots, and me and my team know we’re doing the right things. If we keep building on what we’re doing who knows what could happen.”
‘He’d have realised who it was’
Don’t mind @Robert1Lefty …
Just driving the 371-yard 18th to move on to the Round of 16. pic.twitter.com/vjvM8AjhWe
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 26, 2021
Bob eagled the final hole on Friday to win his group and knock out Johnson. But he didn’t realise he needed to until he reached the final green.
“There weren’t many leaderboards on 17 and I thought DJ was winning his game with Kevin Na,” he said. “When I got to the 18th I asked Bones McKay (Phil Mickelson’s former caddie who now does on-course commentary for US TV) who won the game and he said Kevin had.
“I was rubbing my hands at that because I knew if I made the putt I’d win the group.”
His drive had curled to just a few feet from the hole as Johnson was lining up his own putt on the 18th.
“He’d have seen the wee Scottish flag on the ball rolling end over end and realised who it was,” laughed Bob.
Trying to take the emotion out of it
MacIntyre is headed back to Florida for a couple of days practice before making the trip up to Georgia. He’ll still go up early to “try to take the emotion out of it a little bit”.
“At the end of the day it’s going to be another golf tournament I’m trying to win,” he said. “It’s not like I’m going to just make the cut or whatever, you’re still in that mentality.
“Hopefully I’ll get nine holes in practice with Patrick Reed and Sandy Lyle and pick their brains. But I like to do my own stuff, to be by myself on practice days.”
But although he’ll go for early Covid testing, it’ll be the same kind of routine.
“I’m not going to do anything different than I normally do,” he said. I’ve never played Augusta before, so I don’t know what it is going to be like visually off the tee. But I’d never played Austin until last week either.
“I’ve still got to learn. I’m hopefully going to go there and enjoy it and then see where we end up. First time there and never seen it before, I’m just going to go and enjoy every moment of it.”