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Robert MacIntyre set for emotional final round with four-shot lead and father on bag at Canadian Open

June 2nd, 2024

Robert MacIntyre holds a four-shot lead at the Canadian Open – Reuters/Dan Hamilton

Bob MacIntyre goes into Sunday’s final round of the Canadian Open with a four-shot lead and with his father, Dougie, on his bag. This could be one of the most important – not to mention emotional – rounds of the young Scot’s career.

A debut PGA Tour victory in Hamilton would come with so many benefits, starting with entry to next week’s $20 million Memorial tournament and then, the week following, with a US Open berth at Pinehurst. MacIntyre, 27, would also win a place in next year’s Masters and guarantee his card on the US circuit for the next two years.

Just as importantly, it would provide substance to the conviction that he and his many admirers hold – that last year’s Ryder Cup bow was not a one-off for this talented and fearless birdie gatherer.

So there is plenty for play for, perhaps even too much, and with the likes of Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy ready to pounce on any nerves, the left-hander may require another pep talk from the old man at his side.

“He had a wee go at me when I was walking from the 10th tee down to the fairway,” Macintyre revealed after his third round. “He was a sporting guy, he knows how to win, knows how to lose, he’s been through it all. He could see my head going a little bit.”

Robert MacIntyre with his caddie and father, DougieRobert MacIntyre with his caddie and father, Dougie

MacIntyre has his father, Dougie (left), on his bag – Getty Images/Minas Panagiotakis

The effect was immediate. MacIntyre birdied that par four and from the 14th played the next four holes in five-under, capping off that fine run with a 30-footer for eagle on the 17th. The resulting 66 took him to 14-under and handed him a comfortable cushion over Canadian Mackenzie Hughes, American Ben Griffin and Kiwi Ryan Fox in a tie for second.

On a cosmopolitan leaderboard, England’s Fleetwood – looking to break his own American duck – is one further back and Ulsterman McIlroy two more strokes adrift on seven-under. The pursuers all realise that this is MacIntyre’s to lose, and that is a position it is fair to suggest the pacesetter did not expect to be in last weekend.

Then, MacIntyre had neither a visa nor a caddie. The former was fixed with a call to PGA Tour central, but the latter proved more of a problem. MacIntyre is a popular character, but is earning something of a reputation when it comes to the bagmen. He has been through two already this year, which was understandable at the start of his US adventure as he struggled with loneliness.

However, recently he has been on the upturn, finished 13th at Myrtle Beach and recording a rousing tie for eighth at the US PGA a fortnight ago. MacIntyre is a good catch for whichever looper lands him, but as it stood last Saturday he was weighing up the prospect of employing a local caddie at the country club an hour south of Toronto.

Eventually, MacIntyre phoned the family home in Oban and told Dougie he was required. It was a wise move.

“Look, caddies are so valuable out here, especially on a course like this where it’s a lot of slopes,” MacIntyre said. “I’ve had a few. It’s just different [with his father], because he properly means it. I know the caddies mean it for another reason – I mean they’re obviously wanting us to do well – but my dad wants me to do well because we’re blood.”

The bond is secure. In his role as greenkeeper at Glencruitten Golf Club, and a scratch player in his own right, Dougie taught his son the game. He also taught Bob how to play shinty and still encourages him to turn out for the local team he coaches. It brings MacIntyre back to earth. He is a humble character who plainly misses home, but with his mentor in his corner he is threatening to return Scottish male golf to the biggest stages of all.

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