US Open 2020: Robert MacIntyre confident for debut at Winged Foot

By Brian McLauchlinBBC Scotland
MacIntyre ready for 'brutal' Winged Foot test

Scotland's Robert MacIntyre feels he "can compete with anyone in the world" as he prepares for his first US Open.

The event at Winged Foot begins on Thursday after being postponed in June because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 24-year-old from Oban, the world number 89, finished tied for sixth at the 2019 Open Championship and shared 24th at last week's Andalucia Masters.

"If I hit the shots I am trying to hit, it's just a golf course at the end of the day," MacIntyre told BBC Scotland.

"I've just been struggling lately with my game but I've started to see good signs. I had two rounds under par at Valderamma. It shows I am in control of the golf ball and the mental side.

"If I play well then I feel like I can compete with anyone in the world. I've watched highlights of the 2006 US Open (at Winged Foot) but other than that I've seen flyovers of holes. I think it's simple - stay out of the rough and you will have a good week."

MacIntyre will play the first two rounds with amateur compatriot Sandy Scott and American Kurt Kitayama.

Another Scot, Colin Montgomerie, was runner-up in 2006 after failing to par the final hole.

"I had never actually seen the video of Monty's final hole," MacIntyre explained. "I decided when I got home from Valderamma to watch it. He put himself in that position and he had a chance to win a major. You get one shot at it and unfortunately it was probably one of the worst shots he has ever hit.

"Who knows, I could be down that stretch and hit the same shot as him, hopefully not but it's going to happen to someone. Someone is going to have a great chance of winning and going to hit a poor shot and cost them a major championship.

"It's just part of the game and why we love the game. It throws up so many scenarios and outcomes and it drives you mental at times as well."

Sticky toffee pudding & banofee pie at US Open

European Tour players like MacIntyre are having to comply with strict coronavirus protocols and are being kept within a "virtual bubble".

"I'm not coping great to be honest," MacIntyre revealed. "Others are struggling worse than me. I've had a way of doing it, with the PlayStation and what not to pass the time but you are seeing more withdrawals now mid-round than ever.

"Some guys just explode and call it a day but it's part of what it is just now. We are lucky enough to be playing competitive golf and to do that we have to have the strict things in place. I can't see it moving for a wee while.

"When I go to America I have a better support network and I can kind of keep it as normal as I can. In Europe it's you and the caddy. You are out there on your own. In the States it's a bit more free. I've got my caddy, my coach and my mum is coming out and she is going to do the cooking for us. We will be having the sticky toffee pudding and banofee pie. She has got it all."

MacIntyre chose to play the tough Valderamma course "for more of a mental test rather than a physical one" before Winged Foot.

While Winged Foot is lined by thick rough, the Spanish course is lined by hundreds of cork oaks - but the premium on accuracy is the same.

"If you hit bad shots I think you are going to get punished. The rough from what I have seen is brutal," added MacIntyre, who will be joined at the US Open by compatriot Connor Syme and US-based Scottish amateur Sandy Scott.

"I know a lot about big Sandy. I played amateur golf with Sandy and was his partner when we won the Nations Cup for European teams in France. We played as partners on the last day.

"His game has changed a lot since he has gone to the USA. He is hitting the ball a lot farther now. Again he is from the Highlands and I call him a 'teuchtar' [a Gaelic-speaking Highlander]. He is a great player and he will do well."

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