It was perhaps fitting that Robert MacIntyre’s second DP World Tour win was achieved in the Eternal City. Rome, after all, wasn’t built in a day. In this game that tests the patience and demands exhausting perseverance, the quest for fulfillment can be as arduous as re-pointing the Colosseum with a feather quill.
“I was doubting myself from time to time,” admitted MacIntyre, as he reflected on the myriad frustrations he had endured prior to his play-off victory over Matt Fitzpatrick in the Italian Open last Sunday. “But you just have to let it be, trust what you are doing and wait on something good happening. Thankfully, it was a big one, the biggest win of my life.”
It certainly was. MacIntyre always felt he could go toe-to-toe with the big guns and last weekend’s conquest was evidence of that confidence in his own ability. As well as US Open champion Fitzpatrick, those left playing second fiddle to the Scot included European heavyweights like Rory McIlroy, Viktor Hovland, Tyrrell Hatton and Francesco Molinari.
You half expected MacIntyre to appear at the prize giving ceremony in an imperial toga while bawling the words, ‘Veni, vedi vici’.
“I’ve been working like hell the last two months,” he added of the spade work he’s performed in the ceaseless search for improvement. “I feel like it’s the most I’ve worked, the smartest I’ve worked and that’s thanks to the people around me.
“I know the level of golf I can play to, and where I believe I should be. It was a slow start to the season with not many great finishes so this was massive for my belief, confidence, everything.
“I knew I could compete with them (the big names), I just didn’t know if I could get it over the line when it went to the nitty-gritty bit. I’ve played in all the majors and made the cuts and had top-10s, but I went toe-to-toe with them this time. It is such a relief that I did.”
MacIntyre’s new coach, Simon Shanks, may not have a surname that’s particularly appropriate for golfing excellence but this fresh alliance is now bearing fruit. The meticulous work MacIntyre does,meanwhile, with performance expert Stuart Morgan, a man who analyses statistics with the forensic detail of Quincy prodding at a corpse, continues to bolster his development.
“Stuart and I started working about a year ago,” said the Oban left-hander. “I’d plateaued, I felt I was on a level where I was stuck. Stuart came on board and looked at all the stats
“For me, it was 100 (yards from the flag) to 175, that was my biggest area for improvement. He’s just structured a practice programme for me, when to do it and how much to do. And it’s been massive. It showed on Sunday it’s working.”
Having delivered a sturdy statement of intent to new European Ryder Cup captain, Luke Donald, MacIntyre has plenty to aim for over the next few months. While some gushing observers have already got him scribbled down on Donald’s team-sheet for next year’s tussle in Rome, MacIntyre is not one for getting carried away.
“Last year, I was chasing the Ryder Cup and my PGA Tour card and it didn’t work out but I have no regrets,” he said. “Now, I’m a year older, I’m somewhat wiser and I’m a better golfer, so it’s just about me. I know what I am capable of. It’s nice to get messages from Luke Donald after my win. But it doesn’t change the way I am going to approach things. I’ll just keep doing what I do, setting a standard for myself and take what I get.”
MacIntyre has moved on from Rome to Versailles for this week’s French Open before he returns to home turf for the Dunhill Links Championship. Patience may have been required as he waited to add to his maiden tour win in Cyprus two years ago but MacInytre certainly won’t be resting on the laurels of this latest victory. “In a career you need to be patient but you also have to keep pushing,” he said. “If you are standing still in this game, you are getting overtaken. I am pushing every week trying to get better and if I’m doing that, then these good weeks are going to happen more often.”