It’s not easy living up to hype and expectation. Bob MacIntyre has done just that over the last 12 months.
Remember a year ago? The young Scot stepped off the 18th hole in the final round of the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai as European Tour rookie of the year. The then 23 year old joined a celebrated cast of former rookies of the year that included Sam Torrance, Mark James, Nick Faldo, Sandy Lyle, Gordon Brand Jnr, Jose Maria Olazabal, Colin Montgomerie, Thomas Bjorn, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey and Martin Kaymer The big question other than what he was going to drink that evening to celebrate was what he would do for an encore?
The above list all went on to make their marks in the game. However, there have been previous rookies of the year who failed to live up to expectations. Mike Miller, Paul Hoad, Jeremy Bennett, Philip Parkin, Paul Thomas, Scott Henderson, Olivier Edmund and Scott Drummond didn’t exactly set the world alight after getting the award that comes with Sir Henry Cotton's name attached to it.
It’s too early to know what MacIntyre’s future holds, but he’s a European Tour winner and that means he’s risen to Justin Rose’s challenge.
MacIntyre played the final round of last year's DP World with another who’d had high expectations heaped on his young shoulders, a man who came through hell to win a U.S. Open and an Olympic Gold medal.
Rose marked MacIntyre's card in the final round in Dubai 12 months ago. When the Englishman stepped off the final green, myself and fellow journalists were waiting for Rose’s assessment of the left-hander from the seaside town of Oban on Scotland's west coast.
Name players often get asked about the prospects of young players they’ve teed it up with. Most just play the game and blow smoke up the youngster's derriere. Instead, Rose laid down a challenge. He said:
“He’s got to prove himself still. This is just chat. 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.”
It did. The former Scottish Boys Open Stroke Pay, Scottish Youths and Scottish Amateur champion got his first professional victory this season when he won the Aphrodite Hills Cyprus Showdown (pictured).
MacIntyre arrives in Dubai ranked 59th on the Official World Golf Ranking, his best status on the world pecking order. He might be higher if not for coronavirus wrecking our world, giving him many months off. According to rankings guru Nosferatu, @VC606, on Twitter, MacIntyre...
“...will need a top 7 finish or better for a chance to make the top 50 in the world at the end of the year.”
Not many would be surprised if he gets that. He finished T14 last year.
Too bad Rose isn’t in Dubai this week. Pardon the pun, but he’d no doubt be proud the young Scot rose to his challenge.
#JustSaying: “I’m on steak now. With $200,000 a year, ain’t no sense eating rice and beans anymore.” Chi Chi Rodriguez
Photograph by Getty Images courtesy of the European Tour