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Is Robert MacIntyre Ready to Contend at The US Open

By: | Mon 10 Jun 2024

Before the US Open, Golfshake's Derek Clements shares his latest View From The Fairway, where he comments on Robert MacIntyre's decision to skip The Memorial Tournament and whether that will give the Scot a better chance to contend in this week's major championship.

Almost every member of the world’s top 50 were at Muirfield Village last week to compete in The Memorial.

It has always been one of the PGA Tour’s most prestigious tournaments, and is all the more so now that it has been designated as a signature event, with an elite field and a bumper prize pot.

So it was somewhat surprising to your correspondent to learn that the world number 39 opted to give it a miss.

The golfer in question is Robert MacIntyre. As a fellow Scot, I was thrilled to see him winning the Canadian Open with his father on the bag. He had struggled to settle into life on the PGA Tour, opening up about how different it was to the DP World Tour, where players tend to mix and socialise together. 

The PGA Tour is a very different animal. Players tend to keep themselves to themselves, mixing only with their close friends, family and coaches. 

It has been well documented that some players never get to grips with the isolation it can entail. Chris Kirk became an alcoholic. Grayson Murray turned to drugs and drink and endured awful problems with his mental health, got his life back together, won the Sony Open earlier this year and then, tragically, took his own life after withdrawing from the Charles Schwab Challenge. Georgia Hall, a former Women’s Open champion, refuses to play full-time on the LPGA Tour because she does not like the isolation and being unable to speak with family after coming off the course following a bad round.

MacIntyre’s victory is life-changing. It moved him into the top 50 in the world, thus guaranteeing his place in all four majors and the PGA Tour’s signature events.

Robert MacIntyre

(Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography)

So I have to say that I was extremely surprised and disappointed that he chose to give The Memorial a miss. This is a tournament hosted by Jack Nicklaus, the world’s greatest ever golfer, on a fabulous golf course - probably the best the Golden Bear has ever created. 

And MacIntyre’s reason for pulling out? He said that if he had played it would have been his sixth tournament on the trot - and anyway, he wanted to head back to Oban in Scotland, where he was born, and party! More accurately, he said that he wanted to have "a proper sesh."

What he did not mention was that there were three missed cuts in six starts. There have actually been seven missed cuts in 15 starts this season. 

I fully understand that being in contention for a PGA Tour win is no easy matter. But come on Robert - you are 27 years old, in the prime of your life. Outside of the majors and The Players Championship, there is no bigger event on the PGA Tour than The Memorial.

There are those who will sympathise with his decision. I am not one of them. I believe it shows a degree of disrespect to Nicklaus. MacIntyre says he spent the week at home preparing for this week’s US Open - surely he would have been better doing that at Muirfield Village? 

Some critics have accused the Scot of displaying a lack of ambition by sitting out this tournament. That is clearly utter nonsense - the very fact that he was prepared to cross the Atlantic from the DP World Tour, where he was a very big fish, and start all over again on a tour where very few people had ever heard of him, proves that the one thing he does not lack is ambition.

This is what MacIntyre had to say: "The mental aspect of that stretch was high and then obviously winning last week was an even bigger high, so if I played Memorial, the US Open and the Travelers, that would have been nine weeks in a row. Not many players would play nine weeks in a row, except probably me, the madman.

“There was no disrespect [intended] for Jack’s event. This was all about what was right for me. I mean, the fifth week at Colonial I thought that was even a step too far after having obviously been in with a chance to win at Myrtle Beach, having an outside chance at the PGA Championship.

“So me and my team, we just thought it was the right thing to pull back, have a week off. It could have been any event. Yes, I get that it’s an elevated event, and it’s $20million or whatever it is.

“But does preparing right for the US Open not show ambition? That’s for you to decide.

"Me and my dad and family have just done something special and I just wanted to get home and spend time with the people who really matter in life.

"I want to be one of the best players in the world, if not the best. Lately, especially the last six weeks, that run of six events, something changed and the results have shown that.

"A lot has changed in the past week. It's been a bit of a circus. But I've realised Scotland's my home and it always will be."

Davis Thompson, who got into The Memorial as a result of MacIntyre’s withdrawal, will have put the Scot on his Christmas card list and ultimately finished in a tie for 27th.

And if he does go ahead and contend at Pinehurst this week then I am going to look very silly. And trust me, I hope that he does prove me wrong. But I just think that when he sits down later in the season and reflects on everything he may well come to the conclusion that there were other tournaments he could - and should - have sat out.

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