Culture Shock: Scotland’s MacIntyre Chases PGA Tour Glory While Grappling with American Adjustment

Robert Macintyre curled in a 35-foot, birdie putt on the ninth hole Thursday at the Dunes Golf & Beach Club – it was his 18th – and a hard-earned smile creased the Scotsman’s face. He handed the ball he used to conclude his round of 64 to a young fan and walked to the scoring area with the bounce in his step you would expect from a man tied for the lead after the opening round of the Myrtle Beach Classic.

A PGA Tour rookie, MacIntyre, who enters the weekend one stroke back of the lead at -11, spent the opening two days at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club enjoying laughs with playing partner Ryan Fox, a buddy from his days on the DP World Tour. But the peace of mind and results MacIntyre has enjoyed in Myrtle Beach belie his first-year struggles with life in the United States.Robert Macintyre

The group dinners and camaraderie at the heart of the DP World Tour’s DNA are largely absent on the PGA Tour, where players tend to travel with their own team.

MacIntyre, who played collegiate golf at McNeese State, is hardly a stranger to America, but life on Tour is different, and the move to his new home was a sudden one. After going to 2-0-1 to help Europe enjoy a Ryder Cup romp last fall in Rome, MacIntyre brought one of the most famous trophies in golf to his hometown of Oban, Scotland, in December, a celebration of an unforgettable 2023.

“I’m from a small town on the west coast of Scotland,” he said. “A lot of people never leave Oban. They go on holidays and stuff, but they’re born there, they work there, they ultimately die there. My whole family and friends are there. They’re probably always going to be there.

After spending Christmas with his family, MacIntyre left Oban for Orlando on January 3, and turned his life upside down.

“It’s just difficult when I come over here, me and my girlfriend,” MacIntyre said of the transition. “We’re trying to make it home, and it’s difficult when you’ve not got that family connection. We’re giving it our best shot, but it’s completely different to home life.”

He had little time to establish a new routine, because a week after arriving in Orlando, he left for the Sony Open in Hawaii, starting a whirlwind stretch where he played three consecutive weeks and four of five overall. After finishing T52 in his first start, MacIntyre missed three straight cuts.

With no family nearby and a tour that is less fraternal by nature, MacIntyre struggled through the season’s first three months when a T6 at the Mexico Open was his only top 30 finish. After missing the cut at Texas Children’s Houston Open in late March, MacIntyre went home for three weeks and barely touched his clubs.

Upon his return, MacIntyre, teaming with Thomas Detry, finished T8 at the Zurich Classic. He missed the cut last week at the CJ Cup but felt like he played well, paving the way for his strong start in Myrtle Beach.

Playing with Fox buoyed his spirits as well.

“I’ve played with Foxy, who’s a good friend of mine from playing in Europe, and we actually said before we teed off, we’re just going to have a laugh,” MacIntyre said of the first round. “The two of us were laughing all the way down, having some fun, having jokes, and it just makes it easier.”

While MacIntyre may have struggled to adjust to his new home, the decision to come to America and try to win on the PGA Tour is not one he regrets.

“I’m in a privileged position to be playing on the PGA Tour,” he said. “It was a great decision [to play in the U.S.]. I would regret not giving it a shot. I believed in my game … I’m enjoying playing golf here on the PGA Tour. I don’t know if I’ve worked out life outside of golf in America yet.”

Whether America can ever feel like home will likely determine his long-term future stateside and on the PGA Tour.

“I thought that moving to the U.S. was the only way of achieving my dreams in golf,” MacIntyre said. “I don’t know if that’s the answer. I feel like a happy Bob MacIntyre is a dangerous Bob MacIntyre on the golf course, and home life makes me happy.”

While MacIntyre’s adjustment to life in America has become a Myrtle Beach Classic talking point, the story has been his play. The two-time DP World Tour winner has been superb.

According to the Tour’s shots gained statistics, he is fifth in the field in putting (4.4 SG), 12th in approach to green (2.876), and first overall (9.38 SG), looking like the guy who took down
Wyndham Clark 2-and-1 in Sunday singles at the Ryder Cup.

“I’ve not played the way I wanted to play,” he said of his season. “I want to be one of the best players in the world, so wherever I’ve got to play, I’ll play, whether it’s in the U.S., whether it’s in Europe, whether it’s further afield. It doesn’t faze me.”

Based on the way McIntyre, a two-time winner on the DP World Tour, has played in Myrtle Beach Classic, it might become easier for him to imagine America as a long-term home.

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