Robert MacIntyre on childhood dream and taking a break from shinty

MacIntyre won the 2022 Italian Open on the Ryder Cup course

MacIntyre won the 2022 Italian Open over this year’s Ryder Cup host Marco Simone

Making Europe’s Ryder Cup team for the first time “means everything” to Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre.

The left-hander from Oban has even put the game of shinty on hold to avoid injury ahead of the biennial clash with the USA in Rome.

MacIntyre, 27, secured his place by finishing last in the European points table at the weekend.

Now he can’t wait to get started with Marco Simone from September 29-1. October.

“It means everything,” MacIntyre told BBC Scotland. “It’s the reason I play golf at this level. It’s the reason I work most days to achieve dreams like this.

“There were days when you were a kid playing with friends and you’d say, ‘this putt is going to win The Open or the Ryder Cup’. But coming from a small town, you never see people do that.

“To make it is absolutely huge. It just proves that no matter where you come from, you can do great things.”

MacIntyre has continued to play shinty since turning pro, allowing him to relax and catch up with family and friends.

But the Caman is safely tucked away and has been for most of the summer as he focused on chasing the points required to secure his place in Rome.

“I haven’t played any shinty since The Open,” he revealed. “It’s a big part of me and for my family, but I won’t be involved again until the Ryder Cup is over. I’ll still go down to training and watch the boys for a laugh.”

MacIntyre moved up the rankings in July with an impressive runner-up finish at the Scottish Open, losing by a shot to world number two Rory McIlroy.

“It was huge,” he said of his performance at The Renaissance Club. “It was almost the best week of my life, I was only a couple of shots away, but if it wasn’t for that week, I wouldn’t be in this position.”

McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland, Tyrrell Hatton and Matt Fitzpatrick were the other automatic European qualifiers.

They have now been joined by captain Luke Donald’s wildcard selection – Justin Rose, Shane Lowry, Tommy Fleetwood, Nicolai Højgaard, Sepp Straka and Ludvig Aberg.

“They’re going to back me up and I’m going to try to back them up and I’m going to pull things off their minds if I can,” MacIntyre said of his teammates.

There may also be some questions for the Scot as he has won on Marco Simone.

MacIntyre was the 2022 Italian Open champion, beating Fitzpatrick in a playoff, although he had to withdraw after the first round of this year’s event with a back strain.

“It’s a massive driving course,” he said. “Tee to green, it’s huge, with long roughs and I expect the greens to be a bit slower than we’re used to, to try and favor us. It’s a tough old course.”

MacIntyre is the first Scot to make the team since Stephen Gallacher was on the winning side at Gleneagles in 2014.

“He sent me a nice message,” said MacIntyre of Gallacher. “I’m sure I’ll pick his brains too, but I don’t think anything will prepare me for the first tee in Rome, the nerves, the crowd.

“The hype comes from the outside world, so I just have to go out and play my game. If I do well enough, I’ll be happy.

“We have to Italy to win the Ryder Cup back for Europe.”

‘MacIntyre attitude made for fourballs’ – analysis

Iain Carter, BBC Golf Correspondent

He loves the team environment from his shinty.

He is an infectious personality, with a go-for-it attitude that I think is made for fourballs.

He brings energy and a good dose of confidence after coming through a difficult summer very impressively.

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