Tears of joy as Bob achieves remarkable Open debut

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As Bob MacIntyre holed a 25 foot-putt for a birdie to complete a remarkable debut at the Open on Sunday, some of his family and friends by the side of the green were overcome by emotion.

It was at this moment the magnitude of his achievement truly sank in for those of us who had spent the week striding the links of Royal Portrush watching every shot he played.

Here was an Oban boy, whom we can all remember swinging clubs at Glencruitten and shinty sticks at Mossfield, standing on the 18th green at golf’s oldest major and receiving the loud acclaim of the many hundreds of spectators in the grandstands.

Whatever MacIntyre goes on to achieve – and I have no doubt there is much more to come – he can always say he was the clubhouse leader on the final day of his first Open championship.

In the end, the 22-year-old was to finish tied for sixth position overall, a magnificent feat summed up by this statistic: he is the first Scotsman since Andrew Kirkaldy in 1879 to record a top-10 finish when making a debut appearance at the Open.

He returned to Oban late on Sunday night £250,000 richer and on the cusp of entering the world’s top-100 at number 102. His spot in next year’s Open at Royal St George’s in Kent is already secured. Book your accommodation now.

‘For the first Open, it’s been a dream come true,’ Bob told The Oban Times. ‘The highlight of the week has to be holing a 20-plus-footer on 18. The hair is standing on the back of my neck when that putt went in. That’s what you play the game for.

‘As a young kid when you’re on the putting green, you’re thinking this is to win the Masters or win the Open. Unfortunately that putt wasn’t to win the Open, but it’s put me in good position for the future.’

With each passing day, Bob MacIntyre continues to impress, and it is not just the left-hander’s versatile golf game. He is as down to earth and homely as they come, always returning to Oban between tournaments.

As he stood in front of the national press on Sunday evening and was asked about his upcoming plans, he talked of shinty training on a Tuesday and Thursday evening with Oban Celtic.

‘It just gives me that peace of mind,’ said Bob. ‘I’m away from absolutely everything out there. It gives me fitness. I lost weight from when I started doing it just after Morocco – the Trophee Hassan II in late April is when I actually got back doing it. It’s not dangerous. You know what’s going on.’

Bob’s efforts also put some extra money in the pockets of the many local punters, who cannily took full advantage of his lengthy odds of 250/1, and there was many a toast, paid for by the winnings, in the pubs on Sunday evening. He is a credit to the town and Oban is rightly proud of a young man who is destined for greatness.

Stuart Fraser works for The Times as a tennis and golf writer.