‘If I wasn’t here to win, I’d be in Oban’

Venue: Augusta National Golf Club Date: 8-11 April
Coverage: Live radio commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live, Sports Extra and BBC Sounds. Live text commentary on BBC Sport website from first drive to last putt on all four days. Daily highlights on BBC Two. Click for full coverage details

“It’s a picture as a kid you see all the time on telly. It’s the entrance to golfing heaven. The whole place is absolute perfection. If you could think of the perfect golf course, it’s Augusta. It’s everything I dreamed of.”

The drive down Magnolia Lane – the iconic entrance to Augusta National – leaves Robert MacIntyre agog.

And in between trying to learn every nook and cranny of the pristine yet hazardous greens and fairways, he has been stocking up on souvenirs from the gift shop.

Revelling in every second of the experience on his Masters debut is part of the appeal for the 24-year-old Scot.

But when the serious business starts on Thursday, as the left-hander sends his first tee shot soaring into the Georgia sky, the wide-eyed wonder won’t cloud his determination to compete.

“I’m not pinching myself, because I’ve worked hard to get where I am. I’ve not just got lucky,” MacIntyre says.

“If you have a good week you can be right there knocking at the door, then it becomes a dogfight on Sunday. It’s where I want to be, its the table I want to be at.

“If I wasn’t here to win, I’d be sitting at home in Oban. Every golfer, kid, professional, dreams of being here. I’m here now and it’s about going out there and performing.”

MacIntyre arrived at Augusta buoyed with fresh self-belief after his performance at the WGC Matchplay a fortnight ago, where he reached the last 16 by topping a group including world number one Dustin Johnson.

Big-hitting Johnson is the defending Masters champion, but MacIntyre doesn’t expect anyone to get near the American’s record 20-under-par total from November on the “brick hard” greens this time round.

And as the Scot plots a game-plan that involves tempering his natural attacking instincts, he has been tapping into the expertise of 2018 Masters winner Patrick Reed during practice.

Robert MacIntyre (right) has been taking tips from 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed
Robert MacIntyre (right) has been taking tips from 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed

“The Matchplay was huge,” says MacIntyre. “I performed and held my own. That gave me a shake-up.

“Reed has been great with me. We’ve got on well since playing together in Turkey in my first season on the European Tour.

“Anything I need to ask him, he gives me advice. And around this place he has a not bad record, so knows where and where not to go. He told us little secrets that are great and we are going to use them this week.”

MacIntyre is one of three Scots in the field, joining 1988 champion Sandy Lyle and Martin Laird.

The dream becomes reality when he tees off in the company of fellow left-hander, the 2003 champion Mike Weir of Canada, and CT Pan from Taiwan, at 16:42 BST on Thursday.

“Unless you’re hitting a wedge into a green, you can’t really go at a pin because the ball is not going to stop,” he says.

“It’s just playing smart. It’s a course I respect 100%. I cannot go all-out attack. I’ll be packing my bags early and getting out of here if I do that.”

Having blasted out Scottish ceilidh music on the car stereo during his drive down Magnolia Lane on Monday, MacIntyre has a celebration in mind should he making golf history by becoming the first debut winner since Fuzzy Zoeller 42 years ago.

“I don’t know if it’ll be ceilidh music or just the Flower of Scotland, with my head out the sunroof and a beer in my hand. That would be the ultimate, wouldn’t it?”


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