06 Jul 2022

GENESIS SCOTTISH OPEN: MacIntyre clinging to ‘good signs’ ahead of ‘biggest two weeks’ of his career

As the highest-ranked Scotsman teeing it up in a tournament he regards as golf’s fifth major, a week before the official fourth one of 2022 across the Firth of Forth in St Andrews, Robert Macintyre was never going to escape the limelight at this week’s Genesis Scottish Open. 

Not even the distraction of the strongest field in DP World Tour history, nor MacIntyre’s recent rough play, was going to change that. They’ve been waiting around these parts for a Scotsman to win the national open going on 23 years after all.

But just to ensure the focus is even more intensified, the 25-year-old from Oban has waited till the $8 million Rolex Series event at The Renaissance Club to confirm he’s split from longtime swing coach Davie Burns, a doubly difficult decision given he regards Burns as a “brother’.

You don’t feel like you might be putting too much pressure on yourself, what with this being the start of what you’re also describing as the “two biggest [weeks] of my career”, by any chance?

“Yeah, potentially,” came MacIntryre’s response before quickly thinking on his feet and insisting “the only pressure I get is from me”.

“I can’t control the noise of other people from outside, I can only control me and in the last few weeks I’ve seen some good signs in my golf and that’s all that matters. If I can see that I’m improving, then we’re on the right track.”

So why the change to Simon Shanks (that’s some name for a swing coach by-the-by) and why now?  Burns has been ever-present since the lefty turned professional in 2017 and won his second pro start on The MENA Tour in Kuwait that October. He was a big part of MacIntyre’s DP World Tour breakthrough at the Aphrodite Hills Cyprus Showdown in November 2020 too. But after finishes of 11th, 23rd and ninth in the DP World Tour Rankings the past three seasons, MacIntyre is struggling in a lowly 70th place heading into the Scottish Open.

Things came to a head at the BMW International Open in Munich when he opened with a 67 and then missed the cut with a 74.

“I missed the cut in Munich when I should never have missed the cut. After 30 holes, 27 holes, I was looking at the top of the leaderboard…after 36 I was packing my bags,” he said “We then looked at that and said ‘why have a done that’ and went into Ireland last week, again another brilliant golf tournament, and we were in the same position but we stuck to our guns and we played well from start to finish, had a half-decent finish of top 15 and I think that shows we’re on the right path

“I just need a different voice, a different way of doing things and that’s what I’ve got with Simon just now. Last week was brilliant signs, I actually started hitting golf shots that I was trying to hit.”

After his share of 13th place in Ireland, can MacIntyre complete a fairytale comeback and become the first Scot since Colin Montgomerie at Loch Lomond in 1999 to win the Scottish Open?  To do that, he’ll have to better a field including all four reigning major champions and 14 of the top 15 in the world.

“This is the biggest golf tournament, especially for me as a Scotsman, outside of the majors and, I mean, to have the field we’ve got this week is extra special. But again, I just want to compete here and hopefully have a chance Sunday.

“The last wee while I’ve been hard on myself, results haven’t gone my way and I haven’t played at a level I know I can play at. I think I’ve been getting on top of myself too easily; one bad shot, it’s a disaster.

“But I’m seeing good signs in my game, good performance last week. Changed quite a few things but we’re still pushing to do the same things and trying to get better, trying to win golf tournaments.

“It’s just sticking to that and don’t get too down on yourself, trust that the things that we’re doing away from the golf course and away from performance is working.”

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