Sport I was close to throwing towel in for year before big Dubai finish - Bob MacIntyre
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Bob MacIntyre was close to “throwing in the towel” for the year a fortnight ago but feels ready to take on the world again after taking his “biggest step in the right direction”.
Back home in Oban, the 25-year-old came across as a happy man as he reflected on his 2021 campaign, which ended on a high as he tied for fourth place behind Collin Morikawa in the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai on Sunday.
Helped by that splendid effort, as well as tie for 12th in The Masters and finishing eighth in The Open, MacIntyre secured ninth spot in the Race to Dubai.
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“My highest-finish yet,” he said of that effort, which saw him become the first Scot since Paul Lawrie in 2012 to end up in the top 10. “If I can keep doing that, the years are getting better and better.”
Yet, in being as honest as ever, MacIntyre admitted that his mood changed considerably to how he felt after slumping to an 82 in the final round of the Portugal Masters in the third last event of the European Tour campaign.
“Portugal was obviously the lowest of the lows for me,” said the left-hander. “It’s the worst I’ve ever felt coming away from a golf tournament and it was a case of should I go to Dubai or come home and just throw in the towel for the year.
“I spoke to a lot of people, went to the airport and was just feeling absolutely horrific. Then I got to Dubai and we put everything aside.
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“Obviously I’d just started working with Stuart [Morgan, his new performance coach] and we’ve been working hard on certain things and even he said, ‘look Bob, just let’s shut everything out, speak to the people you need to speak to and, other than that, just go back to simple life.
“‘Throw my stuff out the window, throw (Davy’s (coach David Burns) stuff out the window, throw stuff that Stoddy (manager Iain Stoddart) wanted me to do out the window, throw stuff my mum wanted me to do out the window. Let’s go back to playing golf because you love to play golf’.
“It’s amazing how simple I made things. I was just turning up, doing a little bit of practice, playing, disappearing and doing it over and over again. It just frees the mind.”
That was evident as the 2019 European Tour Rookie of the Year produced some of his best golf of the season on the demanding Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates, where he also enjoyed one of his best putting weeks of the year.
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“I’m learning every time I go out. Not just me, but also Mike [Thomson, his caddie] is learning as much as I am,” he added. “There are little things we’re trying to move forward with. There’s been some great work done over the past two weeks.
‘It’s probably been the biggest step in the right direction in the space of two weeks that I’ve ever had. I was just playing golf, which is what I love doing, and it’s just a massive confidence boost. My head was calm. You could speak to Mike and that’s probably the calmest I’ve been on a golf course in a year and a half working with him.
“On Sunday, I had a wobble for two holes (dropping three shots), but that’s to be expected because I knew it (his chance of winning) had got away. But, other than that, that is the best attitude I’ve had on a golf course and, if I can have a good attitude every week, who knows what I can do.”
MacIntyre, who has jumped to 55th in the world rankings on the back of his strong sign off, will start his 2020 DP World Tour campaign in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek in South Africa in a fortnight’s time.
“I’d have loved to have played this week and next week,” he said of the Joburg Open and the SA Open, “but I need time off. My body needs to recover and I need to spend time with family and friends.
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“Leopard Creek is a great one to throw in there. “It’s one of my favourite places in the world and I’m playing great. The scoring is always difficult there, which suits me perfectly.
“If I took a longer time off, I’d probably throw the clubs away for three or four weeks then get back to it and that’s too long. When you are playing as good as I am, I don’t want to do that and let something go that’s sitting right there for me when I am playing well.”
After a short break over the festive period, he’ll start the new calendar year in the two Rolex Series events in Abu Dhabi and Dubai before turning his attention to some PGA Tour events in the build up to The Masters in April.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned this year is that I can compete at the top, top table of world golf. That’s it,” he declared.
Referring to topping a group that included then world No 1 Dustin Johnson, he went on: “The WGC MatchPlay was the biggest reason for that. At The Open, I felt like I had a chance to win it on Sunday. Then I got on to the 14th and hit a poor tee shot there, but that’s by the by.
“At The Masters, I felt like I had a great chance of finishing in the top five coming down the last four holes. It didn’t quite happen but we were there or thereabouts. I had the most birdies of anyone there that week.
‘So I feel like there’s so much to take from this year. But knowing I can compete at the top table at any given time is probably the biggest thing.”
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