Team MacIntyre ready to go in race for rookie of the year prize

Evening Times - - SPORT | BACK LINE - Nick Rodger

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

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