Team MacIntyre ready to go in race for rookie of the year prize
THERE have been so many highs in Robert MacIntyre’s maiden season on the European Tour, the Oban left-hander has to occasionally pack breathing apparatus into his bag to combat the effects of the giddy altitude.
In Dubai this week, the 23-yearold is aiming to put the tin lid on a terrific 2019 by winning the circuit’s rookie of the year award at the DP World Tour Championship.
For his coach, Davy Burns, the heights which MacIntyre has scaled over the past 12 months have not been a surprise. In a blether with this scribe back in May, Burns outlined the targets he had set for his young pupil.
“People were saying that a great season would be for Robert to keep his card,” said Burns at the time. “But we weren’t talking about that. Robert not making the top 50 and qualifying for the Race to Dubai finale would be disappointing for me.”
Well, here we are in November and MacIntyre hasn’t just made it into the tour’s top 50, he’s knocking on the door of the top-10 and is in pole position to win the rookie prize. On the global front, meanwhile, he’s up to 68th on the world rankings.
It’s been a year of great strides and rousing experiences but, in this game of small margins, Burns likes to highlight the finer details that can make a huge difference in professional golf.
“There have been plenty of moments,” reflected Burns, who is based at the Kingsfield facility in Linlithgow. “His finish at the British Masters, the birdie at the last in The Open and his runner-up finish in the European Open when I caddied for him.
“But there was another one for me. I’m always going on at him about what separates good from great players and that is how they react to disappointments.
“Too often during his career so far, he would follow up a bogey with another one. But I was so pleased at the Turkish Airlines Open when he three-putted from close range for a bogey at a par 3 but then knocked it stiff with his driver on the next hole and made and an eagle and then birdied the next hole as well. For me that was a magical 30 minutes or so.”
MacIntyre’s growing resilience was underlined in South Africa last week when he concluded his second round with a nine to finish near the foot of the field but roared back over the weekend and covered his closing 36 holes in 11-under to barge into the top 10.
Some pearls of wisdom from Burns utilising the wonders of modern technology aided the surge.
“It was a huge boost for me personally to see such a fantastic effort over the weekend in South Africa after our work,” added Burns. “I wasn’t out there but we had a lengthy lesson on WhatsApp [a mobile phone messenger] and we were both so much happier.
“Although he had finished high up in Turkey the week before when I was out there, neither of us were really satisfied with his long game.
“He had slipped back into his old faults – the angles at address and a poor takeaway – but we sorted it and the last two rounds in South Africa was proof of that.”
Burns is on site in Dubai this week in case MacIntyre’s various cogs and pistons require some further fine tuning but after a couple of practice rounds, Burns likes what he sees. “He’s been playing great, he loves the course and it suits his game and his eye,” Burns noted.
That Burns is present again for the final event of the year will give MacIntyre extra impetus.
“When Davy is here I always play well,” said the 23-year-old, who sits 11th on the Race to Dubai. “The British Masters, The Open, Germany [European Open]. I play my best when he’s here.
“It’s not just the fact that he’s coaching my golf, it’s at dinner, it’s the chat. We talk about anything other than golf. He’s not just my golf coach, he turns into a psychologist. I love that.”
Davy Burns with student Robert MacIntyre, his caddie Greg Milne and Bounce management representative Iain Stoddart