Robert MacIntyre looked like a winner even though he lost the 2016 Amateur Championship at Royal Porthcawl to England’s Scott Gregory.
He is now after earning his maiden European Tour victory in the Cyprus Showdown.
Count the 24-year-old Scot as yet another player to finish runner-up in the Amateur and go on to a better career than the man who beat him. MacIntyre, who in 2013 became the first player to win the Scottish Youth's and Scottish Boys' Open Strokeplay Championships in the same year, won last year’s European Tour rookie of the year award when he finished second three times and finished 11th on the Race to Dubai. He’s now 62nd on the Official World Golf Ranking, his highest status. Gregory is currently 828th and still trying to find a foothold on the European Tour. The obvious caveat is Gregory still has many years to make his mark in this game, but he's got some catching up to do.
The Oban man was one of the bright sparks in a disappointing 2017 Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team by delivering one and a half points out of three matches. The 2015 Scottish Amateur champion defeated long-hitting Cameron Champ 6&4 in the opening singles, and then halved with him in the second singles session as GB&I crumbled 19-7 at ultra-snooty Los Angeles Country Club.
The left hander then made easy progress to the European Tour by finishing top 15 on the 2018 European Challenge Tour.
There hasn’t really been any doubt MacIntyre would win on the European Tour since last year’s Betfred British Masters at Hillside when he finished second to Marcus Kinhult. He matched that finish the very next week in Denmark, finished sixth in the Open Championship on his debut and then notched his third runner-up of the season in the Porsche European Open.
This season couldn't come soon enough, but the ever forthright Scot admitted he found life without golf earlier this year hard to handle.
“I’ve struggled mentally with the lockdown,” he said. “To come out of that and finally get over the line here, it means the world to me.
“The first nine to ten weeks of lockdown were fine, I was trying to lose weight and become stronger and I had a target, but when that finished there was nothing to do and I felt I was wasting time and wasting away.
“Everyone knows the support I get from my family and again it was huge. I spoke to my mum and she guided me in the right direction.”
“I just didn’t have the motivation for a wee while there. I wasn’t wanting to play, wasn’t enjoying it. I had to put myself through a bit of pain, go back and practise when I didn’t want to.
“When I finally got the bug back for playing, you could see the smile come back on my face. I’ve got to be enjoying my golf to play well.
“We’re finally back to where we’re meant to be.”
MacIntyre admitted he was missing a couple of important elements needed to finally get his first win.
“My equipment wasn’t right for quite some time and I found what the problem was, fixed it, and now I’m swinging the best I’ve ever done and hitting the best shots. Even the putter turned up when I needed it.”
MacIntyre paid credit to Lundin Links man Mikey Thomson for helping him win his first European Tour event. Thomson had only caddied for MacIntyre in four events before the Cyprus Showdown.
“I needed a change and I knew he was the guy I wanted. He’s got a great mentality, he’s not afraid of anything, and it showed today at the end.”
It was obvious four years ago at Royal Porthcawl Macintyre had the sort of gritty attitude needed to win on tour. He also had the hunger. That’s just increased with this win.
“I know the level I have to play to get in the top 50. The last six or seven weeks I’ve started to see the ball flight I’ve been looking for, I’m injury-free and I’m enjoying myself a bit – I wasn't enjoying it at Wentworth (for the BMW PGA Championship) but it just needed that equipment fix.
“Now I’ve just got to set my standards high, and keep playing with a smile on my face.”
This win was well worth the wait. The next one can’t come soon enough.
#JustSaying: "He’s still got to win and he’s got to learn things. He’s got a brilliant journey ahead of him. Keep working hard. This is the first little nugget. This should be a quick pat on the back, Christmas, don’t take your eye off the ball and he’s got to kick on. Hopefully it makes him hungry.” Justin Rose after MacIntyre won the 2019 Rookie of the Year award
Photograph by Getty Images Courtesy of the European Tour